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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Rick Beckman