This morning, I read Om Malik's nostalgic look back at his 11 years as a blogger and it got me thinking about how I got into blogging -- and how much computing as changed over the last decade or so.
I started this blog in June, 2003 when Web 2.0 tools were still in their infancy. As I wrote in the inaugural post in this blog, I had just spent a few days at the first business blogging conference in Boston. I'm not sure they ever had another, but I'm glad I attended because it had a profound influence on my professional life.
It was at that conference that I learned about blogging, the simple notion that anyone could publish whatever they wanted whenever they wanted without having to beg at the door of the owner of the printing press. Writers were no longer beholden to the publishers because everyone could be a publisher.
Those were heady times and I took to blogging and I haven't stopped since. I now make my living by publishing on commercial blogs. I still have a couple of my own though -- this one and socmedianews.com because I still believe strongly in the power of self-publishing.
I met some of the earliest blogger-publishers at that conference including Rafat Ali, Dave Winer, Doc Searles and Biz Stone, who long before Twitter, started the blogging platform Blogger. Stone would sell Blogger to Google and later help start Twitter. Ali would build PaidContent.org into a go-to destination and later sell his little project to The Guardian for $30 million (which would later sell to Malik's GigaOm publishing company). Winer and Searles remain key voices in technology to this day.
Who knew that little conference in a Boston hotel conference room would be such a stepping stone for so many.
And over time people like Ali and Malik and yes even Michael Arrington, who started TechCrunch, transformed it from a nice concept into a mainstream publishing entity, and in the process transformed publishing forever. I was talking to my CITEworld editor, Matt Rosoff recently and he pointed out quite rightly that today people don't care if it's a blog post or an article. It's simply something you read online. Most people don't make the distinction anymore.
We have reached a point where the lines have blurred and publishing is publishing. What blogging has done more than create a publishing revolution, it has changed the way we write. It's OK to insert yourself in a post a now. It's OK to have an opinion and talk about what you do and how you do it. You don't have to pretend to be objective and reporting doesn't have to be a black box.
All that has happened because of the changes blogging brought.
And think for a minute what the computing world was like in 2003. It was for the most part static web sites. Business people carried Blackberries and regular people carried cell phones that made phone calls and nothing more. There was no notion of mobile computing. We were still years away from the social networking revolution.
It was all new.
I'm still excited by the idea of the democratization of media. Today, anyone with a mobile phone and a Twitter account is essentially a reporter on the ground reporting breaking news at it happens. Everyone has a camera and a video camera. Increasingly, stories break on social media.
But we still need trained journalists to pull it together, to make it more than a series of unfounded rumors without context. Journalists are still trained to ask questions and to give context and meaning to the news we are reporting (at least at our best).
I'm 9 years into this new self-publishing idea. Malik and Searles and Ali and Winer; the pioneers who made it all happen have been at it long before most of us even heard the term blogging.
We seem to have come full circle though where many of these early online publications have been absorbed into the larger media machine. It's ironic that in spite of making it simpler to publish, the idea of big media persists.
Where we go from this point, as we enter the teens is anyone's guess, but if the last decade or so is any indication, I would say we are still in for a wild ride. It's still possible for anyone with a smart phone and a laptop to start a publication with nothing but their wits. And that remains as exciting now as it ever was.
Photo Credit | waferboard