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Twenty years ago today, I became a blogger.
Admittedly, the date could be argued a bit, as I’d had my own website since 1996, and even back then had been in the habit of making short, dated updates that were usually site-related, but sometimes just personal ramblings. And I didn’t come across the term ‘blog’ until a few months later in February of 2001.
But on November 25, 2000, I moved from hand-coding updates into a static HTML page to using a script called NewsPro to manage and automate posting updates. So that’s what I’ve been using as my “official” blogging start date.
In the past 20 years, my posting frequency has waxed and waned (waning more often than waxing, admittedly) but has never disappeared altogether. I’ve moved platforms from self-hosted (first NewsPro, then MovableType) to hosted (TypePad) back to self-hosted (WordPress). Sometimes self-hosted meant on a server in my apartment; these days I use DreamHost as my hosting provider, but I still use a manual installation of WordPress rather than using the WordPress.com hosted service. I don’t tinker as much as I used to, but it’s still nice to get into the nuts and bolts from time to time.
Most of the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve just been another one of the many random voices on the ‘net, never one of the Big Names. The closest I ever came to breaking out of that…well, you can look back if you want, but I’m just glad that it’s in my past. Maybe I’ll have more to say in another three years on that twentieth anniversary, maybe not. Generally, I’m fine with just tossing my occasional thoughts on Apple, Star Trek, politics, and whatever else pops into my mind into the electronic void to see if anyone picks up on it.
If you’ve been stopping by and checking out my ramblings from time to time over the years — thanks! If you’re a new visitor, thanks to you too, especially if you’ve made it this far through this post. You might want to check out this somewhat random collection of notable posts, or just see what was posted on this day in the past (which will work for whatever day you read this).
And, of course, there’s my alter-ego DJ Wüdi side project to be promoted: A weekly (except when it isn’t) Twitch broadcast where I play an eclectic mix of music (mostly focused on alternative dance genres like goth, industrial, EBM, and various flavors of electronica, but with a fair amount of other stuff tossed in as I feel like it). Tune in to Difficult Listening Hour on Saturdays at 1 p.m. Pacific time, or cue up my past archives (plus more mix sessions) on my MixCloud page.
Twenty years down — and hopefully, twenty (and more) yet to come!
Now that I’m (once again) working on resurrecting my regular blogging here (as opposed to walled gardens like Facebook), and as I’ve opened comments up again, I’d love to know if people are actually stopping by (either directly or through RSS/newsreaders) and paying attention to my rambling—and I’d love to know if any of you have blogs or webspaces of your own outside of Facebook so I can keep up with what you post!
So, please feel free to leave a comment (or, if you’d prefer, ping @djwudi on Twitter, or go old-school and email me) and let me know who you are and what blogs, website(s), podcasts, or other projects you have going on that I can add to my reading list!
And if you’re also looking for ways to expand your world outside of Facebook and the like, may I recommend setting up a blog of your own somewhere? You can post whatever you want, you own the content, and you don’t have to worry about algorithms keeping your stuff from being shown to people who want to see it.
A really easy way to get started that I have been using in conjunction with this site for a while now and can recommend is micro.blog. It lives in a space somewhere between Twitter and more full-featured systems like WordPress, which makes it a perfect way to get set up blogging. It’s inexpensive ($5/month or $50/year for them to host your blog, or free if you can connect it to an externally hosted blog–such as a free basic WordPress.com blog), and has a nice community of users. More information on micro.blog is available on their help pages.
Or if you’re just looking for ways to read what you want to read without depending on Facebook’s algorithms to surface things, I’d like to suggest an RSS newsreader such as NetNewsWire (for macOS, iOS coming soon) or FeedBin (web-based). Just tell the newsreader what sources (websites, blogs, news sites, etc.) you want to read, and they take care of the rest. Newsreaders have been how I’ve read most of my daily news for years now, and it’s a far nicer experience than having to go to each individual website to see what’s new.
Whoever you are and however and wherever you exist online, howdy! Glad you stopped by!
For some time now, I’ve (mostly privately, sometimes “out loud” (which could mean either actually talking to people, or in online text ramblings)) been lamenting how rarely I’ve actually been posting to my blog. For the past years, various forms of social networking sites and applications — primarily Facebook and Twitter — have done a good job of monopolizing my online interactions.
It’s not all bad, really, as they’re great ways to keep in touch with friends, and I’m not making any sort of “quitting social media” declaration. But concentrating on those spaces has meant that this space, where I’ve been posting in one form or another for over two decades (seriously: my oldest “blog post” is dated December 29, 1995 and was posted back when I was still hand-coding; I have earlier posts entered into the blog, but they’re ports of old Usenet posts), hasn’t been getting much attention at all. And, as importantly, if not a bit more so, it means that virtually all of the writing and content creation I’ve done over these past years has been going to sites other than my own.
So going forward from here, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to make this blog the central, canonical repository of my online ramblings. I’ll still comment and get into discussions on Facebook and Twitter, but this is where all (well…most all…) content should appear first and will canonically reside, even as it’s mirrored elsewhere so that I’m not simply disappearing from those other spaces.
Here’s how I have things set up at the moment:
In brief (Twitter)
I’ve set up a micro.blog account, which is tied to both this blog and my Twitter accounts (I heard about micro.blog from a few places, including articles by Brent Simmons, Jean McDonald, and Charlie Sorrel). So now, when I have something quick and simple to say, it posts to my blog first as a post with no title, then picked up (via RSS) by micro.blog and piped to Twitter and Facebook.
Look here (links)
When I find interesting links, I’m posting them to my pinboard account — this is something I’ve been doing (off and on) for some time now, I’m just trying to be better about doing it consistently. If I want a saved link to post to Twitter or Facebook quickly, I give it either the
.fb tag respectively, which are picked up by IFTTT and piped to the correct site. Otherwise, the (apparently abandoned, but still quite functional) Postalicious WordPress plugin occasionally catches any recent links I’ve saved and creates a digest-style post for my blog.
Rambling on (blog posts)
If I have something more in-depth to say — like, oh, a few paragraphs on how I’m trying to start blogging regularly again, and brief explanations of the tools and services I’m using to start doing that — then those posts get written (in Markdown format, using Ulysses on either my Mac, iPhone, or iPad) and posted here. Not long after they show up here, micro.blog picks them up, creates a post that links back here, and then that goes to Twitter and Facebook.
It’s technically possible to just connect WordPress to Twitter and Facebook without using micro.blog as a middle step, but micro.blog is smarter about how it cross-posts than WordPress is alone. Without this step, every post would show up as a truncated excerpt and a link back to the blog; this way, that’s only the end result if a post is long enough to make that necessary, and shorter posts just appear to be “native” to whichever platform they’re seen on.
Will this system keep me going the way I hope it does? Only time will tell. But between Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy mess and Twitter looking more and more like it’s going to be killing third-party clients soon, I’m hoping I have enough motivation to actually keep this going, rather than falling back into the ease and convenience of staying inside Facebook or Twitter’s ecosystems.
So it appears I’ve (without really knowing or planning it) become one of the growing number of ‘bloggers’ on the web. Blogger? Well read on…the following text is from Blogger, a service for helping people create and maintain their blogs. While I don’t use them, the definition was useful:
What is a weblog/blog?
A blog is a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically — like a what’s new page or a journal. The content and purposes of blogs varies greatly — from links and commentary about other web sites, to news about a company/person/idea, to diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction.
Blogs posts are like instant messages to the web.
Having realized while websurfing today that I’ve joined the blogger community, I went ahead and retitled this column on my page to reflect that, and added a couple of blog-related links to the lefthand sidebar on the page.
As far as site content goes, I’ve taken down the link in the Contents bar to the Ak Events side of my site, as I’m planning on going ahead and discontinuing it in the near future. It just isn’t getting the traffic I was hoping for…a good idea, but others are doing similar things, and I’d rather let someone else a little more into the idea play with it.
And finally, an amusing link I found while bouncing around the ‘net today: Pornolize! Warning: don’t follow the link if you’re underage or easily offended (or both) but if you’re neither of the above and have a good sense of humor, it can be all sorts of amusing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….