Monday, July 16, 2007

ten (or more) years of blogging

According to this WSJ article, blogging is ten years old. The author credits Jorn Barger as being regarded by many as the first blogger, a reputation which is somewhat deserved, even if not strictly true, since Barger's Robot Wisdom Weblog is perhaps the quintessential example of the type.

If you care to split hairs, this piece by Jason O'Grady offers evidence that others began blogging before Barger.

You couldn't prove it by me, though. My first such efforts came in 1998, a year after Barger, although still before the term "blog" became commonplace. I tried again, beginning in late 2000, but my heart really wasn't in it, possibly because so much of my energy went to fine-tuning the HTML and CSS that I lost focus on the content, whatever little focus I'd had to begin with.

I've always been more into conversation than soliloquy, albeit with mixed feelings, since it's all too often the case that what I want to talk about either is of no interest to others or others have trouble wrapping their minds around it. So if, as regularly happens, I've got something particular on my mind, I have to be prepared to go there alone, and, if I'm going to do that, it might as well be in a blogging context instead of within an nominally conversational environment.

You might be wondering, if I'm so into conversation why do I have anonymous comments disabled? The answer to that is that, for me, dangling a conversation off a blog post is like putting the cart before the horse; it's backwards; the conversation comes first, or ought to.

There is, of course, a conversation that goes on among bloggers who read each others blogs, but participating in that takes more time than I have to give to it.

So here I am, just one of millions, tossing my pearls to thin air (or worse before swine, for all I know), hoping that if I have anything of value to offer it will take hold in a few minds and spread out from there.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

five days after activation: metareaction

I didn't manage to resist the siren call of the iPhone, and I'm not sorry. It's already clear that I'll get many times more use out of it than I was getting out of the phone it replaced, which I generally only turned on for a minute at a time to check for voicemail.

The first couple of days after making the purchase were tough. You see I was among that small percentage of people whose activation experience was less than stellar. In my case this was because my old phone was of a different type (TDMA instead of GSM) and my old service plan didn't qualify for the iPhone (no surprise). So, it wasn't until more than 48 hours after I first attempted to activate it that the activation actually took effect, and a few more hours before I discovered that it had done so, the morning of the 4th, investing new personal meaning in "Independence Day".

Since then I've had a glimpse of a long-predicted aspect of the future that's finally arriving around us, one in which ubiquitous telecommunications becomes the basis for effortless and effectively continuous interconnection between people, regardless of where they might be at the time. So what if the content of the communication thus enabled is mostly twitter! People twitter, especially with lifelong friends; it's part of what keeps us connected, sharing the little events of our lives, day by day, moment by moment.

While it's tempting to invoke the concept "noosphere" in talking about this, I'd say we've some digging ourselves out of a hole to do first, that hole being the disruption of community-forming relationships brought about by the mobile society. We've become too accustomed to treating the people in our lives as though they were interchangeable, an endless sequence of undifferentiated identities temporarily associated with roles with which we interact, not really as individuals at all.

Does the iPhone magically fix all that? Of course not, but it's a big step in a helpful direction, making it easier for each of us to stay in touch with the people with whom our lives are intertwined, reducing the effort involved in keeping track of and making use of contact information to practically nothing.

More than a million people have already bought and activated iPhones.(That was an inflated figure, however the real number was >200,000.) That's a successful product introduction well on its way to becoming a movement, one with real social relevance.