Then to Now: A Blogger’s Tale

I have been on the Internet and making web pages for nearly twenty years. Yeah… I think I made my first website around 1995–1997, using hosting space provided by Dad’s Internet hosting provider, Comteck. It didn’t have its own domain name, but I was proud to have written all of the markup for it by hand, using (if I remember correctly) Netscape Composer and a copy of HTML for Dummies. (Pretty sure that was HTML 3.2. I miss its simplicity at times.)

Hand-written markup would eventually give way to Microsoft FrontPage (*cringe*). What it lacked in elegance, it made up for in efficiency — I was publishing websites as if it were as easy as tying my shoes. FrontPage lost its luster, though, when I realized how badly it was limiting me, and I eventually discovered Dreamweaver and began once again hand-writing a lot of my markup, often with the use of free templates I would find and modify to my liking.

In time, WordPress landed on my radar, and I never looked back. I tried numerous content management systems — even shelled out money for several of them — but all of them seemed so… unpolished compared to WordPress, even back then.

And I began to blog. Too much, at times. I found membership with 9rules prior to… whatever it was that seems to have killed that network. It was during this time I met a ton of other fantastic bloggers. I found my humble attempt at blogging being linked to from other, more established, far more interesting blogs.

I discovered a community that I hadn’t even known really existed — the idea of “blogging” is something that I resisted for a couple of years too long, and I wish I could have gotten into it during the earlier days of it.

Over time, I found myself following hundreds of blogs about a variety of topics. Five or so years ago, it was tough to keep up on them.

With the imminent shutdown of Google Reader, I’ve been going through my list of subscriptions with fresh eyes, moving them over as they are updated to Newsblur.

Today I swapped my Google Reader setting over to “View All” rather than simply “View Updated,” and I was presented with a daunting list of sites which haven’t been updated in a long time. I clicked on several of them. Tried to visit the sites, and so many of them no longer exist.

Sites which once stood alongside mine in the “Religion” category and which were inspirations to me as a novice blogger now no longer exist, no trace of them to be found. Other sites which I devoted hours to reading their entire archives haven’t been updated in years.

It’s heartbreaking to see the blogging community I once spent so much time interacting with having faded away over the years.

Perhaps more personally heartbreaking is that my humble blog — despite numerous domain changes, name changes, and focus changes — still exists and, irregularly though it may be, is still updated, all the while being a pale reflection of what it once was just a few short years ago.

I wish I could be more proud of my little corner of the expanding universe that is the Internet. I wish it was worthy of the larger blogging community, like it apparently was all those years ago (according to 9rules and the myriad bloggers I met and interacted with, anyway).

Over the past couple of years, I have said so many times that I’m going to do something with my site, I’m going to do something with my site, I’m doing to do something with my site. I have notebooks filled with scattered pages of notes, random feature ideas, content ideas… I have countless copies of the file which contains all of the custom code I have written and use for my site, all with different versions of customizations which may or may not even matter anymore.

It’s all a very disparate mess, wholly unworthy of the legacy of not only this blog in its heyday, but of all those amazing bloggers which I communed with so long ago.

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