Jason Kottke’s retrospective of twenty years of blogging.
I’m not quite up to twenty years yet—My First Blog was a LiveJournal, creation date 14 September 1999—although I was making non-blog websites by ’98. Thankfully most of these have been lost to the gods of bitrot; unlike Kottke, I’ve gone through periods where I’ve wiped my old sites and started fresh, mostly because, like him, there’s a lot of shit in my old archives1 I look back now on an cringe over. The person I am at thirty-four is not the person I was at twenty-four… or fifteen, for that matter.
Because I was fifteen when I made my first post on LiveJournal and, of all things, I still remember doing it; I was sitting at my computer in the living room of my ‘rents old house, off school for the day because I’d bargained Mum out of having to attend the athletics carnival if I vacuumed the house. My First Blog Post was explaining this situation, as well as confessing I had not, in fact, vacuumed the house because I was too busy tooling around with LiveJournal (which I was sure would “never take off”).
As mentioned, pretty much all those old websites have been lost to the ravages of time, although I will admit I did get nostalgic and try and have a look for them on archive.org anyway. This was the earliest I could find, circa 2001 (minus all graphics, which from memory featured… Gackt, maybe?):
Things to note:
- The “articles” are tutorials on how to integrate the then very basic Blogger-based weblog into a custom domain using PHP includes, which was basically how people made websites Back In The Day.2
- The hosting section was how people got cool websites in the pre-social media days. It was kind of like sharehousing but, like. On the internet. And with no-one but the “homeowner” paying any rent…
- Not pictured: the obligatory cliques, dolls/adoptables, and webrings section. You know… I actually miss webrings. We should really bring those back.
- Reading those list of links reminds me that one of the individuals turned out to be involved in one of those weird, infamous fandom kin-cult things…
- The early 00s website design aesthetic (which I was… never very good at) has really, really not dated well, based on my archive.org-rabbit-hole survey of other websites from this era. That being said, I do sort of miss the experimental messiness of it all, especially when compared to the prefab template sterility of the Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook dashboards. On the other other hand: 8pt justified Verdana. Never. Again.3
Mostly, though, we were all just so young. Yikes.
- Yes, I still have them; they’ll be in MySQL dumps somewhere on one of my computer’s HDDs, if I really wanted to torture myself digging them up. ^
- Or, if you were Rich™ you bought a Movable Type licence. ^
- It also just… does not look the same on modern monitors, which are both bigger and have, like, font anti-aliasing. ^