Monday, May 24, 2010

A Place Called Blogsville (Part II)

As great as things were moving along, little did we know that behind the scenes, a pattern was developing that would be repeated across a wide spectrum of web-based companies throughout the 2000s, and Blogger was one of the early ‘victims.’

Growing, but still struggling, was purchased by Web-giant, Google, in February 2003. At first, it was no big deal to us. In fact, the news brought with it a sense of pride, given that Google was sort of the epitome of the kind of growing, aggressive, cool, Web company who started out little and just ran with it. Those of us who had been involved with the business of the Internet for years were encouraged to see a company truly emerge from the DotCom Bust with signs that they really were going somewhere; that the Web truly had a future based on measurable success, rather than merely unfounded speculation as had been the case in the DotCom Boom years.

Google had it together, and we all assumed that what was good for Google would be good for Blogger.

Only one thing though; we soon learned that what was good for Google was good for Blogger — it just wasn’t good for ‘The Blog.’

On May 9, 2004, Google announced the new, massively significant upgrade of The typical style of blogging, having been incredibly influenced by the medium’s biggest growth spurt: the 9/11 catastrophe, had shifted.

The term, ‘weblog’ didn’t quite apply as it once did. In the 90s, the medium’s early adopters generally held to a style in keeping with it’s name: a log, i.e.: a series of brief, understated, usually off-the-cuff remarks, generally not more than a short paragraph or two.

The format for weblogs was then, generally a galley list of posts, all on a single web page divided only by the week or month.

However, with the citizen-journalist sea change of post-9/11 commentary, blogs were now becoming decidedly more essay-related in length and scope. The new upgrade to Google’s version of Blogger would reflect that.

There would still be the digest front page, containing a dynamically-created run-on list featuring blog entries of a determinate span of time, but now the layout emphasis would be of a format to support longer, individual page blog entries.

The old template we were running still worked, but the publishing process had changed completely.

This rather played havoc with our groups’s faux forum purposes for using Blogger, so on May 9th, 2004, as the rest of the blogging world rejoiced, the TK Bloggers cursed the ground that Google walked on. We walked out in favor of finding new digs, in an actual message board environment that closely simulated our old Blogger home. It took some doing, but thanks to some geeks a lot smarter than me, we got it worked out, and we still meet there today.

But what to do with Blogger?

Curiosity and the Inside Joke
With the new Blogger now up and running, I couldn’t help but remain interested, however in practical terms, I still had no real idea what a blog was, even after being a registered Blogger user for nearly two years.

For purposes of posterity and reference in daily dealings with my TK buddies, I certainly wasn’t going to cut myself off from access to the old account, but I also decided to poke around the new and improved dashboard and see what possibly creating my own blog would be about.

Then about a week and a half after we pulled up stakes on the old blog, somebody posted a link to one of the new, upgraded blogs. The site was creating quite a stir in the local Washington DC media, as it involved the kiss-and-tell-all details of a Congressional page and a prominent US Senator.

The scandalous exploits of The Washingtonienne were, well, interesting to say the least. But even more interesting to me was the concept that one could lay out a story like that for all the world to see, and all you had to do was type it and press a button. I, at that very moment, ‘got’ blogging for the first time.

However I had no illusions of grandeur, thinking someone would find anything I had to say interesting. Instead, I saw it as a way to pull a rather inside joke on my pals.

As I explain in one of my info-pages found in the blog navbar, ‘What happen?’ is this:

We had long since carried on a running joke in the group about a key phrase from an otherwise obscure late-1980s video game called Zero Wing. The mangled-Japanese-to-English transliteration of, ‘All your base are belong to us’ had become a geek catch-all phrase in the late 90s. The application, in varied, crazy forms, was rampant on message boards all across the Internet.

So I decided to create a new blog and call it, All Your Blogs Are Belong to Us, assuming that at least one of my buddies would find it, get the joke, and we’d all get a big laugh out of it.

So I did. On May 24, 2004, I created my blog and started posting — fairly innocuous stuff at first — waiting for someone to notice. But no one ever did.

However, something completely unexpected happened. The more I wrote, the freer I felt; like a great weight on my shoulders was being lifted; it was cathartic. Apart from a few lengthy emails, I had really never before expressed myself by way of the written word, and the feeling was absolutely liberating.

I kept writing, and waiting for someone from my TK group to comment — in my blog’s comments or in our private forum — but no one did…for awhile, anyway.

I posted on disparate subjects; from the etymology of the word, shit, to the mountaintop experience of my very first rock concert, seeing The Beatles in 1964 at the tender age of eight years old.

I found myself in an increasingly comfortable place. I didn’t know where I was going, but I was certainly enjoying the ride.

But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a virtual strip club that I realized I was in the right neighborhood.

Waaait…c’mon, nah! Get your mind outta the gutter!

Next: The Neighborhood
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