Can you believe it? I had to re-read the headline a couple of times as well.
Yesterday, The Guardian posted an article titled, The blog turns 20: a conversation with three internet pioneers. It made me do a double-take. This blog, has been around for eleven years. With over 3600 posts and over 40,000 comments, it is much more than a publishing platform. It is much more than a place where I share what I am thinking about or tinkering with. It is an ongoing space where people come together to think differently about how brands can better connect with consumers. I can’t thank you enough for being here, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that blogging was invented.
Twenty years is a long time.
Brands struggle to understand digital marketing. To say that this is nothing new, is to acknowledge just how slow companies can be to adapt, and how adverse to change many people can be. You can head over to your local bookstore (if you still have one) and look at the most recent business books being published, and there will – without question – be several titles about how to get started with blogs and how important they can be to a businesses success. When I was writing the first draft of my second book, CTRL ALT Delete (which came out in the latter part of last year), I was genuinely anxious to use the word "blog" in the book. I felt like people reading it may misinterpret my use of the word and think that I was dismissing some of the newer channels, or that I had become an old man, clinging on to this thing that had lost its shiny luster and media darling position in the world. When I look at new media platforms like Huffington Post, Business Insider, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever, I just see some kind of variance on the blog. A blog – for my dollar – has simply become the catchall phrase for the ability that human beings now have to create content (in text, images, audio and video) and instantly share that with the world for free. Blogs were better defined as an online journal that enabled writers to instantly publish their content to the world for free (it could also be easily distributed through the power of RSS – a term that is also all-but-forgotten). Now, it’s not just words. It’s not just on a computer. Still, Instagram just feels like photo blogging to someone like me.
Twenty years… and it’s just getting started.
In a world of disposable technology (both the hardware and the software), I still believe in the power of words. In a world where books are moving from bookshelves to iPhones, I still believe in words. In a world where pictures can be sent via mobile and then destroyed so that no trail ever exists, I still believe in words. This hesitancy of brands to embrace these channels are both a personal frustration to me, but have also afforded me an incredibly rich life of work that continues to keep me inspired. Still, I have a hard time believing that the concept of blogging is two decades old.
If you love to write.
Often, people will ask why I love to blog so much and so frequently. The answer is simple: I love to write. If you love to write. If you love to share… you should be blogging. To me, the notion of blogging is still as exciting and powerful as it was over a decade ago, when I published my first post. Back then, I could not believe that this piece of software existed. I could not believe that I didn’t need anyone’s permission (be it an editor or a publication) to reach an audience. I could not believe that if my words resonated, I would be able to find my own audience and build my own community. Twenty years later, I get that same tingle – each and every day – when I lift the lid of my MacBook Air and stare at the blank screen. I don’t often know where the journey will take me, or how easily the words will flow, but I am deeply grateful and forever thankful for the pioneers who built this platform.
It’s not about me.
As I read the article in The Guardian, I started to realize that while I am thankful that I was able to find a corner of the world to share my words, that I much more grateful that I am able to read, consume and engage with the thinking of others. I have met some of my closest friends because they are bloggers. Because they share. Because they write. Because they care. These people are real. More real than the digital pixels that transform and distribute their words instantly around the world. If you look to the left of this blog post, you will see something that says, "Check Out These Blogs." Those people are just some of the big brains that I think about, read and follow with each and every passing day. In a world without blogs, I would be waiting years or months (at best) to hopefully grab a new book from them or an extended article in a magazine or newspaper. No more. Blogs destroyed the chasm that existed between writers and their audiences, by giving them the ability to share on an ongoing basis. I marvel at that more than anything else. I hope you do as well.
Happy 20th Birthday, blog! I’m looking forward to decades more of your goodness.
Feel free to share below what blogs mean to you…
Great post – and I agree with what you have written! But isn’t the Guardian getting a wee bit ahead of themselves? As best I know, the first use of the term “weblog” was in 1997, see: http://www.wired.com/entertainment/theweb/news/2007/12/blog_anniversary
We were certainly publishing content online earlier than that in many different forms… and I don’t dispute that what Dave Winer and the others in the article were doing is what we now call “blogging”, but on what basis (other than wanting links) is the Guardian calling this “20 years of blogging”? That’s what I’m missing.
Again, great post!
Obviously I had to respond to this by writing a blog post! (You can find it on my site if you’re interested).
Either way, I think it’s fascinating the way blogging has changed from its early days, when it was very much about sharing knowledge for the sake of it, and now it’s such a part of monetisation, content marketing, and in many ways much more corporate than it used to be. It had to happen, of course, but it still makes me miss the ‘wild west’ days of the internet…
My personal blog continues to the one place where can I enjoy and experiment with my creative expression and critical thinking. It’s my space, my time, and my joy. As you shared with Todd Henry in the “Die Empty” podcast, it’s the creative activity for which I’m willing “to suffer for.”
I’ve been suffering since 2009. And, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. 😉
P.S. Thanks again for publishing last year’s Todd Henry “Die Empty” podcast. I listen to it repeatedly, and I’m learning so much from Todd’s amazing book.
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