As of this year, I have been blogging for twenty years! This post is going to be full of links isn't it? I also decided against putting any images in here because blogging is a primarily text format damnit!
The oldest post on the blog is dated on the first of January 2002, a full year before I even started working. It didn't occur to me to celebrate that date as an anniversary (that's my excuse for this post coming some seven months late), mostly because at that time the website wasn't really a blog, more of a collection of static HTML files I uploaded to Geocities, Tripod or whatever random free file host I could fine and it happened to include "status updates" and "rants". Some of these "ancient" versions of the site are archived here. I wrote more about this in 2019.
Another possibility of an anniversary might be in late October of 2003 when I migrated to using Blogger to manage the site; at this point I suppose we could consider it a "real blog". Initially I was just publishing from Blogger via FTP to my free file hosts. Sometime in or after 2004 I migrated to use Blogger's own hosting and the domain became http://roywantsmeat.blogspot.com/. This site is still up today because for some reason Blogger has not yet found itself exiled to the Google Graveyard.
In 2006 I finally got some real webhosting and my own domain name, which I've held until now. I started out with a simple PHP-based webhost so my only choice at the time was to use Wordpress.
Towards the end of 2008, I had been studying Django for a while so I migrated to a new webhost WebFaction, which was very developer friendly and allowed deploying Python apps. I made the jump over the Christmas holidays and at that time the site was fully Django-powered. The source code for this old Django version is archived on Github.
I carried on with the Django site for a few years, despite the hodge-podge of code it had become. I eventually quietly migrated back to Wordpress, sometime in 2010. I did not log the transition, but I took a 5-month work hiatus in 2010, so that's when it likely happened.
That stuck for a long while. In 2018, I decided to migrate from Wordpress to Hugo, a static site generator.
In 2019, I decided to migrate all of my social media posts and other stuff into this site as "notes". This massively increased the number of posts the site was generating!
In 2020, I migrated again to a fresh newly-coded Django backend; at the same time I migrated my hosting to a DigitalOcean droplet (because WebFaction got purchased by GoDaddy and died). The last migration, at least for now?
It's certainly been a ride.
I won't indulge in all of the reasons I do this activity, I've certainly already written a lot about the activity of blogging itself.
The 2000s were some of the best times for early bloggers. There were enough of us online and I was able to become acquainted with some other bloggers who I didn't really know IRL (internet stranger friends, imagine that!). And back then there was a lot less focus on blogging as an income-generating activity, whether for marketing or earning from ad views or such, so most of the blogging back then was "sincere".
From 2010-2013, I tried to spin off two topic-focused blogs (both backed by Wordpress): MTGStorm (archive.org link) focused on Magic the Gathering, which I was still playing a lot back then, and IReadComicBooks.com (archive.org link), focused on comic book reviews. This was around the time trying to turn blogging into a side hustle was gaining traction, and the prevailing wisdom at the time was you had to be more focused in your topics (as opposed to the hodgepodge of topics I tend to write about). Neither of these efforts lasted long - I found myself easily bored with posting about the same topic all the time. I later imported posts from both sites back into the main blog.
From 2011-2015, my activity kind of tapered off on this blog (which is probably why that instance of Wordpress lasted so long). The lack of activity was some combination of work getting busy and social media kicking off (so I tended to write shorter posts via Facebook/Twitter/whatnot). Most of the posts from this era were from the two side blogs mentioned above.
My blogging activity resumed in earnest in 2016, when I found myself taking another work hiatus and switching to part-time freelance work. And somehow here I am still going strong in 2022! Blogging has seen a bit of a resurgence recently, with more people souring on the big social media platforms and with movements like the Indieweb gaining a tiny bit of traction. During the past few years I've found myself being able to interact with other bloggers again (more internet stranger friends!), which is always nice.
Aside from the writing, I've also been sharing links online for almost as long as this blog has been running; first via del.icio.us (RIP) and later via Pocket and currently via this site's very own backend. All the links I've ever shared are still available via the linkblog.
When I started writing on the internet back in 2002, I couldn't have predicted I'd still be doing it 20 years later. I'm not going to pretend any of my writing on this blog was especially noteworthy or popular or whatnot; my writing has always been for myself first and foremost. But I am a bit proud of somehow being in the same "generation" as old-school bloggers like Rands (recently celebrated his 20th year as well), Andy Baio of Waxy.org (also turned 20 this year), Seth Godin (blogging daily since 2003!), Kottke (blogging for 24 years and finally taking a hiatus), or Cory Doctorow (blogging since 2001!). I've been reading these old-school bloggers since forever. Maybe someday I can be as prolific or well-written or well-read as them!
The FutureOn I wrote:
Reminder that there is absolutely nothing stopping you from blogging this way still.Quoted emkey's tweet:
Does anyone remember blogging when it was really just you talking about your day and what interesting thing happened? Before sponsored posts and photo dumps. Before people cared about it being "content" and it was seriously just something you wanted to share.
My hypotheses is that in the 2000s, a higher percentage of the people who were online a lot back then were inclined to blogging as a personal activity or hobby. I think there actually are still a lot of people doing "real" blogging these days still, as services like blogroll.org certainly have a lot of blogs listed. And I have a long backlog of blogs and blogrolls to check out, so it kind of feels like blogging is almost as strong as in the 2000s. I think the main difference is that these days almost everybody is on the internet, but most people are either passive consumers or posting only on the big social media platforms, so while there are still a lot of bloggers, the percentage of bloggers on the internet is much lower. It's even possible there are a lot more active bloggers these days in terms of absolute numbers! For this reason I think the future of blogging is strong, while not necessarily as mainstream as it once was.
My own writing has been going steady over the pandemic years. I've started the whole weeknotes habit, which fulfills the whole "talking about my day" part of blogging for me. That means weekday posts can be about specific topics I find interesting. I'm hoping to be able to write more non-weeknotes posts moving forward.
As for the site, I have honestly been wanting to do a bit of a redesign on the blog, and was hoping I could do it before doing this 20-year anniversary post (yet another excuse for the delay!), maybe that's something I'll get done before the year ends. There's a lot of other things I want to do in terms of organizing the content on the site, things I write about, and so on and so forth. I like to think of this site as like the web itself: perpetually changing, growing and evolving.
I hope to be blogging for another 20 years to come if not more!