The reason people keep blogs – let me be more straightforward: the reason I keep a blog – is to express opinions. Precisely to not, always, have to be consistent or sensible or bound by a duty to the truth. To not, always, have to be responsible. To not, always, answer to the same standards I’d expect of (say) a writer for the New York Times or the Guardian. To be full of shit, if I feel like it. And, what’s more (and this goes to the bozo who whined about my ostensible tone of “world-weary superiority”), to be full of shit in whatever style I feel like adopting.
This is nearly identical to something I wrote back in early 2000, when I was keeping a (very) personal journal on a site that no longer exists. Blogs were a pretty new thing then, and there was still a fair bit of dispute about what kind of a website that word should refer to. Vestige.org had been around for a few months by then, and looked dramatically different from what it is today (and was closer to the kind of sites I’d been building since I came online in late 1998), but the site my journal was on was most definitely what would become knows as a blog. I updated and archived everything by hand, because content management systems like WordPress either didn’t exist, were expensive, or were difficult to customize or coax genuinely useful behaviours out of. It was just easier to manage everything by hand. Most of us were still using
FONT tags for fuck’s sake. I wasn’t even writing about books.
These days it sometimes feels like keeping a personal website—now a blog by default, rather than them being the exception—has to be about developing a personal brand, about marketing yourself or your interests in some way. In 1998 the Internet didn’t feel like a marketplace, it felt like a frontier, the closest someone like me would ever get to lighting out for new territory, planting some stakes in the ground and calling whatever was between them my new home. I was lucky enough to find a community of people I could respect and learn from, programmers and web designers, illustrators, sysadmins, UI architects, writers and Flash gurus. Some of them, like Adam Greenfield (who I doubt would remember me today) would become influential in building the Web as we know it now. The businessmen were already setting up shop by then, and we were on the cusp of the boom. They knew there was gold in them thar hills. A lot of us would make our careers that way (my path was different, though the Internet will always play a role), but most of us were, and still are, driven by what can be done, how far things can be pushed, not just by how many more and better ways we can sell shit. I came here for the adventure, and while it’s true that now even I am using things like my Twitter feed to “network” and make connections, to advance my interests, most days the adventure is still why I’m here. It’s a place where I get to be full of shit, and full of shit in whatever way I want.
What’s crazy, though, what I didn’t expect, is that the things I’ve been doing over the last little while to “market” myself (a term I use loosely), are turning out to be a hell of a lot of fun, and they’ve helped me—especially over the last two months, thanks in particular to things like Kerry Clare’s Canada Reads: Independently, and Twitter, which I’ve already mentioned—start to find a place in a whole new community, one where we aren’t building the Web, but maybe something just as exciting, if a little smaller. A niche frontier, if you will.
Anyway, thanks for letting me come out and play.