In 2001, I was a compulsive blog reader. At the time, the Internet had little more content than blogs, some corporate websites and the very beginnings of the information superhighway that it’s become. (Aside – what is a superhighway? Is it extra wide? Extra fast? Is it another one of those words that sound impressive and speedy and mean nothing?) I was blogging before there was blog software, but by then, Livejournal had debuted and begun to change the world. Diary-x soon followed, which I moved my blog to from the manual HTML pages I was creating. When the famous hard drive crash happened, I lost my blog, but I also lost contact with the people that I read and had befriended. We would have been surprised to call it a blog; what we were doing was journaling. We were writing in online journals, an almost direct translation of the paper kind. We, total strangers from different parts of the world, were sharing our lives in a very real and meaningful way.
This was, of course, before anyone had lost their job because of what they put online. The Internet was a more innocent place then. I’ve found myself nostalgic for that time, when personal blogs were the majority of the content. Their heyday has really passed. Facebook and MySpace did it; instead of writing long journal entries, now it is easy to microblog to a private audience, to make tiny updates of whatever passes through your mind. Twitter specializes in this and its popularity is proof that this fills a real human need. With such ease for dropping thoughts, the longer process required for putting together a coherent post seems to have slipped away for most. I’ve certainly struggled with that myself.
If the Internet has given us anything amazing out of science fiction, it is the ability to access a global knowledge base. I remember looking for a map of Scotland in 1998 and being completely unable to find one. No one had put one up yet. Now there are hundreds. It is the book nerd’s dream. But sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the price, for all the paranoia that’s come with it. There was a time when people could be brutally honest and open and anonymous, when there was so much to be learned about how people really thought about how they lived. I can’t help but miss it every now and again.
Who do you read? Who do you recommend?