06/16/12

How Things Work: A Micro History of Blogging

When the internet first came about people were amazed at all it could do. They could construct websites, find information, and forge communities all in 1s and 2s. These pioneers are mostly nameless today. Unlike Seward and his folly or Columbus and his decision to sail straight off the “flat” earth, the first settlers of the internet were anonymous souls who made Angelfire websites, photo-shopped avatars, and slowly built algorithms that would one day inspire the technology we know today. These were different from the technology pioneers like — and — who literally built the first computers and integrated the internet. Point of note: UCL was the first university to connect to the World Wide Web with the US – making it international and truly on its way to being World Wide.

But back to those nameless few, they did something all explorers must do – they wrote things down. They kept meticulous databases of websites they visited, what they found there, and how they used this information. These web-logs were shortened to blogs and turned into the diary heavy, photo op, phenomenon we have today. These diaries were akin to the field journals anthropologists keep today and, after the advent of free software in 1999, accessible to all.

Today, blogs dominate with content online being valued higher than content on paper. Technorati puts the number of blogs currently out there at 112 million with the Huffington Post being the most widely read. There are thousands created every day, although I’d bet a lot of these quickly fall into disuse. I myself have been through a number of titles since my first Angelfire when I was 14 (You could be reading a post by Polterguist87 right now… pig-tailed avatar and all).

With digital editions taking over new programs like Flipboard will take blogging to a new level. Flipboard takes your favorite blogs and even Facebook and Twitter posts and puts them together into a little cyber magazine. (Which reminds me, rant: I want to get Wired magazine but seeing as I have no current home address I want the digital edition, ONLY the digital edition. I know it seems silly since it would be the same price therefore the hard copy is essentially free but I have a feeling my friends won’t be too thrilled if they just become the vortex of science and tech magazines they don’t read. Can’t I at least get 6 months of digital and hold the paper? I don’t want paper to stop because my iPad will never know what a sandy, water, sun tan lotiony beach looks like but come on there must be a middle ground no?) Anywho, I find that whenever I want a new magazine I’m fine to go update my Flipboard (I don’t have wireless internet and therefore have to cyber-squat every time I need a download… thanks Nero!).