Blogs are no longer just blogs

Today our lives are so entangled with the web, it’s tough to remember what things were like in the early days. Having one’s own website was a badge of innovation, but it was difficult for others to find your website, particularly in the days before search engines. Getting a site up and running was a major personal win; most sites didn’t change much over time.

Blogs originated as a means of sharing discoveries on the web. That’s why people share blogrolls. It’s also why the most recent entries appear above the fold. Since old news is ho-hum, you don’t expect to lose much of value when archives scroll off the page.

While blogs began as a means of putting simple points and advice on the web, their ease-of-use led blogs to play a much larger role. Blogs empower non-technical people to post information to the web. When people realized how drop-dead simple it was to post to blogs, they began using them as diaries, family photo albums, professional updates, and group calendars.

As the novelty of nifty-looking but never-changing websites waned, some web designers began posting fresh content to their websites frequently. The time was right, but I felt like a pioneer when I converted my home pages to blog; I hadn’t seen anyone else do it.

Blogging attracted both experimenters who enjoyed pushing the boundaries and doctrinaire conservatives who always colored within the lines. Conservatives said blog entries were sacrosanct. Like a daily newspaper of record, once an item was printed, it was not to be changed. Experimenters said that blogs were personal sites to which you could post anything you pleased. Dave Winer, an accomplished but cantankerous blogger, had a reputation for changing his web posts frequently. Programmer Mark Pilgrim wrote a program that listed each change to Dave’s blog. (Dave, who had just been appointed to the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, hinted that he would bring legal action against Mark).

My own blogs are host to essays, documentation, stories, photos, diagrams, video, jokes, and anything else that comes to mind. I am not comfortable having items of lasting value disappear off the bottom of the page. People may find a prior post through a Google search but this is not enough for someone who wants to look through, say, my past articles and stories on Total Cost of Ownership of various PCs.

To keep the oldies-but-goodies alive, I post them to my wiki and/or tag them on Del.icio.us.

My primary blog is Internet Time Blog. It deals with business issues, travel, and anything that catches my interest. The Informal Learning Blog came out to accompany and extend my book and research in informal learning. I keep private blogs for research.

My latest blog is for working with the un-book project. I’m using it to categorize, tag, and store paragraphs of findings. Blogs automatically create relational databases of entries. What’s on top no longer matters, for no one will read this blog top to bottom; indexes and tags will lead them there.