Someone recently asked me when I started blogging. The precursor to blogging for me started after a talk at Internet World in Washington, D.C. in December 1994. In the talk, I shared a vision about the future of the Internet (which I have been talking about ever since). People would call my assistant at IBM and ask if we could mail them a copy of the “slides”. It did not take too many of these requests before I got the idea to build a website and put a copy of my presentations there for anyone who wanted them. The website was ibm.com/patrick. Wish I could recall the date when it started. The ibm.com site went live on May 22, 1994. I think my homepage was about a year later. There were a number of people and technologies involved in the “/patrick” website and it’s evolution, but that is a story for another day.
I have enjoyed writing for a long time and in 1996 I got the idea to write short stories, which I called “Reflections“, and share them at /patrick. The Reflections were similar to blog postings in that they were a way to share thoughts with others — there are roughly 50 of these stories here. The first story was written in January 1997 about a trip to Asia. What Reflections did not have was the consistent and structured context tags (date, title, author, category, and content) of a blog nor the syndication features of a blog that allows others to subscribe in various ways. I guess you could say I was a blogger in spirit but not in reality. I have been gradually converting the Reflections into blog postings.
In trying to piece the timeline together, I culled through my archives and so did my former colleagues Mary Keough and David Singer. As best we can determine, the first real blog on /patrick was born in June 2001 using software called Greymatter. It was not the easiest thing to use and I am grateful to Aniket Patel for his assistance in setting up the software back then. A year or so later I switched to Radio Userland software and then on March 1, 2003 I switched to Movable Type. I wrote my stories using Macromedia Dreamweaver and then posted the stories into the blog using Movable Type. There are now more than one-thousand stories posted.
The remaining comments on this page were written a few years ago and everything has since changed. Surprise! I will re-write the whole page soon…..
In December 2002 I wrote a story about “The next big things” and said blogging was one of them. It made some people laugh. Blogging? You have to be kidding. I still think blogging is one of the next big things. We are at the very beginning. In David Strom’s latest Web Informant, he writes about examples of new uses for blogging that go way beyond story writing. One that he cites is package tracking. Today we go to shipper websites and check the status on a shipment. With blogging, you could create your own subscription to the shipper’s information. When your package moves from point A to point B, your “news” feed is updated. There are many things that might be in the category of “tracking” where blogging technology would be useful. Notification about a song, book, or wine which you are specifically interested in. Progress of a hurricane or news item. An upcoming doctor appointment or automotive checkup. Why not do all these things with email? For most of us, the email inbox is a jumbled array of all forms of communication. It is easy to miss something important because it is buried in the midst of a lot of things that are not important. There are tools to filter and organize mail but it takes a lot of time and thought. With blog feeds, you proactively subscribe to something you want to know. If you use Newsgator, your blog feeds are all nicely organized in folders — like email except that everything in your blog folders is something you care about and you know exactly where it is. In a way you could say that it is self-organizing.
I see blogging as the tip of the iceberg — the beginnings of the semantic web — a web where all content has context and everything is related to everything else. Context is the subtle power of blogging. A number of us were talking about “tagging” at PC Forum last week. Tagging of music and pictures has accomplished more in the past year or so than AI (artificial intelligence) has in decades. There is a lot of focus on search (several new search companies at PC Forum) these days — finding things you are looking for among the billions of web pages. Blogging comes at the problem from the bottom up. Content created with blogging has tags: date, title, author, category, body. The tags allow people to find things more easily. And of course we are not limited to those simple tags. How about part #, listing date, price, # of bedrooms, genre, etc. As sure as I can spell my name, I am certain that blogging remains as one of the next big things. We haven’t seen anything yet.