February 9, 2011

This Blog Goes All the Way to 2,000

This blog post (yes, the one you are reading) is number 2,000 in this blog. The blog turned 10 years old on December 31, 2010, but other than a quick mention of it on Twitter, I more or less let that pass.

Starting the Blog (Under the Hood)

The vanderwal.net domain name started was initially purchased in 1997 and was used for a general personal website, of which my links page is a early remnant of that (it is a continuation of links page I had on my personal website initially hosted in Compuserve in 1995) and it has moved to all versions of my personal site since then. The blog was started in late 2000 as it was on my to do and try list and I started in with Blogger while waiting for the New Year’s ball to drop on tv. The first post, is now gone (it was likely the very profound “hello world” sort of thing or “FuBar is testing”. I, like many others who were using Blogger, then a product of Pyra, went through the growing pains of Blogger with its outages (all pages from Blogger were sent via FTP to my site) that meant no new updates could be made using that service. Pyra imploded one fine day and was left with just one employee, Ev Williams to run it with bits and pieces of help until it was later bought by Google. But, I only lasted on Blogger for nine months or so as I had been pulling together a travel blogging tool that would allow me to post to my blog and not have to use FTP.

October 2001 I moved to my own hand build blogging tool that also included a redesign. This has all pretty much stayed since then. In October 2004 the commenting was turned off after I woke to 1400 porn SPAM comments and I deleted the SPAM comments and removed the code for commenting. I had intended to bring comments back at some point in the my own tool, but then comment SPAM got worse my thought was to move to add an external commenting service (none have been satisfactory enough to move forward with). I then have been planning to move all of these posts into another blogging tool that had an easier to manage workflow for editing and also had a good commenting system. That has yet to happen and increasingly I am fine without there being any comments here. I miss the days of old when there were great conversations in a blog’s comments, but those days rarely happen any more outside of four or five blogs I can think of. One of the reasons I went with building my own blogging tool was the ability to have multiple categories assigned to each post to make aggregation of like posts much easier. The volume of content here has made that ease of use, much more difficult to pull off and it is one of the things I am back playing with in a dev version of the tool.

Blog Writing Style Changes

When I look back to my first blog posts that were created in Blogger, I see a huge change in the writing style and content from where posts have ended up today. The blog is named “Off the Top” as it was posting of things that were coming off the top of my head and were just a random collection of things (hence the URL naming for where the blog sits). The rough gathering and sharing of ideas shifted in after the first few months to a longer and a little more serious style. My style shifted a little bit when I moved to my own blogging platform, but the biggest shift was when I added headers to posts in March 2002. The style of the posts went from many short (paragraph or so) posts highlighting of things found and shared for others, but also shared for a future me to comeback to. By 2003 the posts were getting longer and there were fewer posts per day.

Delicious, Twitter, and Personal InfoCloud Ate Content

The changes on blog writing style were paired with other services and blogs easing content out of the blogs pages here. The catchall blog I started with included posts of a sentence or two and occasionally a paragraph or so, changed quite a bit over time.

Delicious was the first to really move content out of the blog here. The small snippets pointing to web pages and putting them in context all fell into Delicious (for a short time I built a my own bookmarking tool, but it lacked the social benefit of seeing others interactions around the same pages).

Twitter altered the site by the quick bon mots going straight there. The short snippets not only disappeared, but the frequency of blogging really slowed down. The posts that still showed up here were longer and more detailed.

This shift was somewhat good as it allowed me to really focus on subjects I was working through. One of the longer early pieces was in 2002 and was not posted in the blog as it was very out of character. When I moved to my own blogging platform I not only set it up to have multiple categories / keywords, but to classify posts as blog posts, journal, or essay. This last classification was statements and short pieces, longer more personal pieces, and essays were longer. Over the time, most everything has been classified as a blog post, but fits my initial framing that these would be called essays.

The longer pieces were also trending to a more central theme that I was working around. The mixing of work and much more fun content was getting a lot of feedback from people reading that it should be separated. That more professional writing also seemed likely to benefit from comments, which were not coming back anytime soon here. At this point I used my TypePad account and pointed www.personalinfocloud.com to it. For quite a while I was cross posting, but that slowed down in 2008 or so.

Where Does This Go from Here?

This blog is continuing on. I have a lot of pent up content that fits well here. I really want to get back to posting things about what I am reading and have a means to capture and share other ideas out. The demarkation of what goes here and what goes over to the Personal InfoCloud blog is a little fuzzy. But, I am fairly sure I am not going to add comments back here on this blog. Watching other blogs the number and quality of blog comments have dwindled, drastically. There are few blogs that have great comment threads anymore, but far fewer than benefit from tools like Disqus that aggregate poor comments (most are not comments and not really relevant to the posts) from elsewhere around the web / internet.

Here is to another 2,000 posts! Perhaps (I didn’t plan 2,000 posts when this started and would have called anybody crazy should they have suggested such a little over 10 years ago).

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