From the monthly archives:

December 2006


December 31, 2006

The previously link-referenced Wonderchicken Joint. It’s a sign! Just click it…

Warblogger roots

Rock ‘n roll never forgets

The search for the world’s first weblog continues because somebody’s got to do it, and I have found an early iteration of Robot Wisdom here (although I was distracted by all those links that haven’t rotted yet — I was distracted from the search by Camille Paglia’s columns in Salon, United Media’s Dilbert, Chicagoland Gangs — and I was frustrated to find so many of the links rotted, particularly US journalism. The BBC does a good job preventing linkrot. Why can’t The Nation?)

One reference keeps popping up, a reference to the first list of links on the world wide web, or perhaps the second if you count Sir Tim’s jottings, a reference found everywhere from Scripting News to objective scholarly work. A log was maintained by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois: What’s New With NCSA Mosaic and the WWW. Most of this seminal document seems to have rotted away entirely, so if you need to find the original hyperlink to the FishCam, well… you can’t do that, but you can Google it, or look it up in Wikipedia.

Peter Merholz, a blogger with wayback roots took some time off from blogging in January, 2003 and then returned with a WordPress blog in March, 2003. You can access his archives from March, 2003 forward just by changing the yyyymm date in the address line in your browser. I mention this because as I’ve been digging into the whos and the whens of emergent blogging, Peter showed up as a person with consistently interesting things to say and consistently interesting links pointing away from his blog. The whole question about who “invented” blogging is nonsense of course. Samuel Pepys (pronounced like the marshmallow easter candy, but more nutritious) invented blogging but he got the reverse chronological order part backwards. And the issue about who was FIRST and/or MOST INFLUENTIAL with a weblog remains a competition with a single entrant, and I think everyone has agreed to give him the gold medal when he decides the race is over. The value for me today in reprising the satirical “I invented blogging” competition from 2002 is in reconnecting some of those pathways that were obscured in the last year or so, and in finding new connections, new ideas whether profound or simply mind candy.

A day or two after September 11, 2001 Beth and I were outside and we looked up into the blue sky. We saw something that is increasingly rare, a sky with no contrails. Aircraft were grounded everywhere in North America and the paths of their passage had blown away, wisps on the wind. Peter Merholz pointed at this incredible animation last summer, and it shows me what was missing that beautiful fall day. What it doesn’t show me is the data on greenhouse gas emissions of aircraft or the even subtler environmental pressures air travel imposes. You should click through because you will enjoy it and it only lasts a minute or two…

I’m guessing it will remind you of the Internet.

* * *

(pssst… wanta learn Ruby? MarekJ pointed to this excellent documentation a couple of years ago. He’s probably the guy who invented blogging, too…

…also, the documentation contains foxes, cartoon foxes.)

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I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from “audience” to “public” and from “consumer” to “creator.” Weblogs are no panacea for the crippling effects of a media-saturated culture, but I believe they are one antidote.
- Rebecca Blood, September 2000

While few would argue with the fact that Russian Prince Vladimir Odoevsky conceptualized blogging in 1837, I have been hearing some mumbling around my house that I may have exaggerated the facts when I invited everyone over for my tenth anniversary of Sandhill blogging party to be held all day tomorrow, right here at Beth, who is in a position to know, pointed out that business formation papers for Sandhill Technologies, LLC were not even filed until the fall of 1997. Sandhill blogging, it would seem could not have preceded that date, and likely didn’t begin for three or four years after.

But why be picky? Every day is the tenth anniversary of something and if I want to go all postmodern on you and celebrate the tenth anniversary of Sandhill blogging on 12/31/2006, why not? I did, after all, invent the genre. Sure there was a bit of a controversy a few years ago, fingers pointing, fur flying, some ruffled feathers, but nobody then or since has successfully challenged MY claim. (Howard Rheingold is the only person I think may have been blogging before me, but he was posting from a cell phone in an Amish outhouse and I’m not sure that counts.)

I’ll speak honestly here. The reason I’m celebrating my tenth anniversary on the 31st is so I can get in ahead of Dave Winer who will be celebrating his tenth in the Spring.

I know that it has been about five years for some of my favorite bloggers. “Uncle Rageboy’s Kids,” I call them in honor of the message Uncle Rage sent out on my boys’ twenty-second birthday, 11/7/2001. Jeneane Sessum, Kevin Marks, Denise Howell, Gary Turner and oodles of others fall into this category of second wave bloggers launched by Chris Locke just because he could. (I claim Mike Golby as my own blog-son, but that’s a different story and should only be told after the little ones have been tucked into bed).

But these people I’ve linked are bloggers-come-lately. Why I remember when I was just getting started we had to walk all the way to school, blogging on a rig comprised of a 12 volt car battery and an IBM PC/XT with an acoustic coupler tied in to two tin cans and a string. Those were the days, a-iight, and it was uphill both ways. Back in those days, or a little after, we had graduated to Pentiums by this time, Dave Winer wrote a news site called Scripting News. Later, after the cool kids had hipped him to blogging he held onto that URL and converted it to a weblog running on his own software. His tenth anniversary at that URL is coming up on April Fools Day next year and I plan to send him a cupcake with ten candles in it.

Christian Langreiter was blogging back then… one of the first wave bloggers, and I think he drew his inspiration directly from the man who could be said (as much as me) to have invented blogging. That man, the inventor of a blogging prototype, the man who shaped Prince Vladimir Odoevsky’s concepts, who managed the journalizing and hyperlinking of vast quantities of text back in the day when the cathode ray tube was useful for displaying sine curves and little more, was Walter Benjamin. Benjamin never acknowledged the debt he owed Prince Vladimir, but there was little the family could do about it from their impoverished holdings in Stalinist Russia.

Of course a case could be made for Dave Johnson’s invention of weblogging, Roller, or “Homeport” as he called it then. Four years ago, Dave reminisced,

So, working in a vacuum without knowledge of weblogging, I invented weblogging. You know what I mean: I invented weblogging like Columbus discovered America. If you ignore the fact that indians, native americans, aztecs, etc. had been living in the Americans for thousands of years and had in fact built entire civilizations there, the statement ‘Columbus discovered America’ is a true one. So, I invented weblogging and now I’m in the process of pushing the aboriginal webloggers west and eventually into little reservations where they will no longer bother me with talk of [cite] tags, RSS 2.0, trackback, and other stuff that I will soon invent.

Lucky for Johnson that he doesn’t have deep pockets, because over the last several years Prince Vladimir’s heirs and assigns, returning to power following that dark period of corrupt socialist enslavement, have been on the trail of those who have profited from his intellectual property. Like Microsoft, they have applied for a patent that they expect will permit them to control the use of the technology for the betterment of all mankind. They’re coming after the inventors, the businessmen, the entrepreneurs who have profited by exploiting the intellectual property rights of their ancestor. They’re coming after the guys with deep pockets.

Fortunately, I have only been in this game since the early nineties, and while I’ve led teams that developed some pretty cool software and implemented some heady technology, I’ve never actually shrink-wrapped and shipped anything myself.

I hope you all can join me here on the last day of 2006 for a tenth anniversary party. We can dish on the guys with deep pockets, the guys Prince Vlad’s family are after. We can discuss the eternal verities and the tragic plight of so many of our self publishing brethren and sisteren. For example,

Many people feel that to self-publish is rather sad, if not a little narcissistic. But among the bores and the nutters valuable opinions can be found. The virtual world offers the freedom to publish without censorship, even for those living in the less free parts of the real one.

The smarter marketing and PR professionals have already worked out that bloggers are a powerful viral communication channel. Get the right bloggers, blogging about your products or company, and you can expose your brand to a global audience.

The man who invented the term weblog was Jorn Barger. He was discovered begging on a San Francisco pavement last autumn. His cardboard sign - which is mandated under international begging laws - although a little dog is optional in the US, said: “coined the term weblog, didn’t get a dime”.

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Death Sentence

December 30, 2006

It’s ironic that the Texas executioner will never spend a night in jail, yet Saddam Hussein was hanged. As governor of Texas, George Bush executed 131 prisoners. He slept on clean sheets last night and enjoyed three hot meals today. Hussein, recently convicted of killing 148 people in 1982, was hanged this morning. Bush should [...]

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Sort of the inverse of Big Dave…

December 29, 2006

Neither one of us likes to wear a cape, but I do like redheads. Dave Winer’s results… My results:You are Spider-Man Spider-Man 90% Superman 75% Green Lantern 65% Robin 60% Catwoman 55% Supergirl 50% Wonder Woman 45% Hulk 40% The Flash 35% Batman 30% Iron Man 30% You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and [...]

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My work of late…

December 29, 2006

…has been careless, slipshod. Ironies abound, of course. My work, the reflection of myself, may be careless, but my self is not. My self is burdened with care. Woe. As for slipshod, well… as the poet said, don’t judge me by my shoes (on the other hand, they’re Eccos, rough suede loafers with a rolled [...]

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What did Santa bring you?

December 29, 2006

I got an Australian Shepherd t-shirt!

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What’s going on?

December 28, 2006

This site has been off-line for a few days, and in the meantime I’ve been watching the squirrel races… Gerald Ford is dead and John Edwards has announced, on YouTube, his candidacy for oligarch-in-chief. He seems to have Robert Scoble in his claque. I think a few comments ripped from Just Shelley will help round [...]

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Performance Anxiety

December 27, 2006

I don’t know if it’s the host, the database, or some content on the blog, but the last few days I’ve had spotty results finding my way into the wonderful world of Listics. Maybe this trace route information tells it… Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600] (C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp. C:\Documents and Settings\Frank Paynter>tracert [...]

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