Return of the Blogger

Huh . . . will you look at these fancy blogging digs I’m being set up in here? Pretty impressive, if I say so myself, which I can, because I’m not the one who set them up. But, then, that’s pretty much always been the case for me. Some background, for perspective . . .

Back around 1994, when folks first began bolting from CompuServe and Prodigy and AOL to grab their own corners of this crazy new thing called the World Wide Web, a friend of mine asked if he could take a bunch of my print articles and put them on his server, since he was in desperate need of “content” for the hosting service he planned to create.

I said “sure” and ended up with my first website for the price of sending some old school floppy discs to Texas. That site flamed out after a couple years, and another friend took a stab at hosting some of my content, until his interests shifted and I was again homeless, internetedly speaking. As it turns out, I was doing some primitive html’ing for a website at work, so that gave me enough courage to take the leap and go ahead and build my own website: jericsmith.com.

It was a creaky beast, quickly filled with cruft and strange code and weird margins and tables that didn’t quite line up the way I wanted them to. Once I built it, though, and poured all my content into it, I was sort of at a loss for why I was bothering. What was the point of having a website, really?

The answer came to me when a friend from the Xnet2 mailing list forwarded an article (since proven very influential and perceptive) by Rebecca Blood called Weblogs: A History and Perspective. A-ha! They could be diaries, but for other people (mostly strangers) to read! Hooray! I quickly cobbled together an awful html template for my website, and began blogging within days. After about a year of wrestling with my cranky homemade code, I finally switched to one of the standard online blogging applications, and completely replaced my old website with the same. It was easy sailing from there forward.

I blogged like a champ for about six years. In 2004, I wrote and published a poem a day, for 366 days. I wrote some essays and became the King of Bad Bands. (Want proof? Go to Google and search for “worst band ever” or any other similar phrase . . . I’ll all but guarantee you that the first link you get will take you to my website). But then, like many things, it sorta started to get stale: I was pulling 40,000 hits a month, but I didn’t feel like tapdancing to entertain the visitors anymore. I finally decided to close the blog down entirely when I was accepted for a Master’s of Public Affairs and Policy Program at Rockefeller College last spring. It seemed the prudent choice.

But the itch to write something other than policy memos remained. I posted stuff on some message boards. I wrote long e-mails about all sorts of things, but none of those outlets offered that somewhat thrilling sense of having everything flapping in the electronic wind in real time, never quite knowing where it was gonna blow, or who was gonna pick it up and run away with it.

So I’m back, but in shiny new blogging digs, keeping blog-company with some people I know and some people who are as new to me as I might be to you. I’ll offer a little more background and perspective on the who-what-why-where-when’s in the next post, and look forward to interacting with old friends and new readers as I get back to thinking out loud in public, the way I like to do it best.

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