Ummm… about that tenth anniversary

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”.

Posted in Web Publishing, Writing
5 comments on “Ummm… about that tenth anniversary
  1. Kat Herding says:

    Are you related to Pablo Picasso?

  2. john says:

    That’s just like how I’ve been “dumpster diving” since way before it was cool. Now it’s recycling and retro. It used to be a sometimes stinky way to burn hours off a clock.

  3. Winston says:

    Still a bit slow and cranky, but at least you’re up and running. You must have threatened god-addy with plug pulling or something…

    Congrats on the 10th, or 9.83th, or whatever. Mainly, thanks for paving the way for us newbies. If you and others had not been there long ago, we wouldn’t even know that we’re supposed to bitch when godaddy is godown…

  4. McD says:


    When you hit 10 years, you’re supposed to hang it up. That’s the
    conventional wisdom… but blogger’s
    are anything but conventional, so,
    I guess rules won’t apply.

    I think patterns are more helpful than patents. Patterns indicate that most ideas evolve from some
    useful, scalable pattern. Blogging
    fits into a communication pattern that has links back to the oral tradition of story tellers.

    You can’t invent a pattern but you certainly can exploit one. Credit is so often just a request for more
    ego payment for being an early proponent of the new pattern iteration.

  5. Tom Shugart says:

    Sorry I wasn’t able to be here to help celebrate the occasion, but at least I gave you proper acknowledgement in my blog before leaving town.

    I’m in that five-year group that you mention, but I can only lay claim to being a Rageboy grandson. My direct parents were Jeneane Sessum and David Weinberger(whom you left out for some reason).

    Anyway, Frank, way to go. Ten more,please!



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