Monday, May 24, 2010

A Place Called Blogsville (Part I)

In a Blog of my own (Revisited)
While I may not have any sordid escapades to write about like the Washingtonienne, it's going to be kinda cool to just post a little stream-of-consciousness every now and then.

I would like to officially thank my Blog comrades in TK fandom, who on a daily basis, make me meaner, more irreverent and a more than just a sight bit smarter, as the inspiration for my Blog moniker. It has absolutely no significance to me or my life, but it makes me laugh every time I think of it. Those who know where it came from will get it immediately; those who don't, won't.

I'm not exactly sure what I'll do with this thing. It'll probably be a series of random thoughts composed of equal parts friends, family, music, sports, and personal history. I'm kind of excited about the idea of chronicling reviews and thoughts about the many concerts and music shows I attend; just to have a record of the experience. I've never kept anything that resembled a journal before, so this should be fun.

I'd also like to talk about some things that I think about a lot: friendship, loyalty to ideals, genuineness, my wife and kids, and other things that make me happy. If anyone reads any of this and wishes to comment, I'd welcome the dialogue.

Well, here we go...

That was my very first blog entry, posted exactly six years ago today. I really didn’t know what to expect of this medium, which I’d actually already been a part of for nearly two years previous, because I still didn’t have a sense of what was bottled up inside of me that needed to get out.

Mister Tony Made Us Do It
I was a part of a group of sports talk fans who in the early 2000s listened with great enthusiasm to former Washington Post sportswriter, Tony Kornheiser’s daily talk show on ESPN Radio. You may have heard of Mr. Tony’s broadcast show on ESPN TeeVee, Pardon The Interruption, in which he banters in crossfire-style debate on topics of sports and pop culture with his good friend and former colleague at the Post, Michael Wilbon.

If you know anything at all about Kornheiser, it’s that he’s hilarious, whether anything he says about sports has any other value at all. So I began listening — and laughing — regularly, at just about this time of year, April/May of 2002.

I discovered this group of mutual Kornheiser enthusiasts purely by accident, while trolling the message boards. They all used to congregate in the Major League Baseball forum there on the web site. That was the point at which I realized that I could actually listen to ESPN Radio online from my desk at work; previously The Company had blocked streaming audio on our network.

I began to participate, familiarizing myself with the members of this TK group, and had a fabulous time laughing quietly in my cubicle as I worked.

Then in July, the always outspoken Mister Tony was suspended for comments critical to ABC/ESPN management and their handling of the events surrounding the recent firing of Tony’s radio show producer, Denis Horgan. The message boards went wild, and the TK group staged a war of words (and deed) with ESPN.

That quickly got the MLB board shut down, temporarily quashing the voices of dissension. However we continued on with a continuous stream of complaint emails to upper management (along with a few other less public forms of protest).

By this time, we were all connected via email, but given that we had lost our means of more immediate dialogue, it was clear that a new forum needed to be found. But message board software was expensive, cumbersome to install, and time/resource-heavy to maintain. We needed something cheap (read: ‘free’) and easy, and we needed it yesterday.

Hence, ‘The Blog’
As a result, one of our group’s members suggested a new, free online service that supported this new phenomenon called, ‘weblogging,’ which I had absolutely no concept of at the time.

The site was called, and we found that the way it was set up, we could actually use it as a kind of faux forum by assigning each of us as an author.

Blogger’s format (typical to how most people composed their weblogs in the early days) was not so much based on individual page posts, but rather on those consisting of a brief paragraph or two; from the blog homepage, they were displayed in digest format with the author’s name and post timestamp appended to each entry. As a group, we simply had to publish the blog after each of our posts and everyone would then be able to see it, updated online, en masse.

I knew nothing about Pyra, the parent company responsible for this wonderful little service. I knew nothing about their previous struggles and growing pains over their previous three years of existence; I knew only what we all knew: that Blogger was now the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It was mid-to-latter 2002, and fortunately for us, was gaining momentum, both from within as well as without; but more on that later.

Our new ‘forum’ was operating flawlessly (most of the time, anyway), and in it, we happily congregated, commenting, and contributing to each other’s Tony Kornheiser experience. However we didn’t meet only during the show’s three hours each weekday. Someone was pretty much always there most of the time, chit-chatting, spinning stories, telling jokes, whatever. A profound, albeit testosterone-dominated community was forming; and it was good.

Guys were becoming friends. Despite how much we ragged on each other — oh, and believe me, it was merciless at times — there was always a sense of community, and a deep-down respect for all.

Our new community had no official name at this point, but since it was born of a place called, ‘Blogger,’ we universally referred to it as, ‘The Blog.’

We still do.

Next: Googled
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