Anil Dash wrote something last month about how much the web has changed since the early aughts, when all the coolest geeks had their own blog and no one knew a thing about “social media.” It made me wistful for the old days, and now that it’s a new year I feel like giving this old thing another try.
I started this site 12 years ago. That’s longer than my marriage, longer than any job I’ve held, longer than I’ve lived anywhere since I was a kid. Even though I stopped and started blogging here too many times to count, that’s a long time. I feel like that counts for something on the web and I ought to give it some love.
I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’m thinking it’ll be some combination of old fashioned blogging with the longer personal essays I’ve been doing for a couple years. My interest in blogging waned when I started using Twitter, but I’ve always felt something missing when I wanted to write a few paragraphs about something and be done with it. So here we are.
To get started, I moved everything from my own WordPress install to WordPress.com because I figured it was time to get out of the business of running my own blog software (more on that later). I spent the weekend fixing broken links and restoring images that didn’t make it in the transfer, and it gave me a chance to read through a lot of my old stuff and think about what this little project has meant to me. Here are some general observations:
- All told I moved 1,042 posts with 631 tags over 12 years of archives. For a long time I’ve kept most of that stuff private/unpublished because I only wanted to show off my capital W “Writing,” but I figure if I’m going to give this thing a chance again I should just own it and put everything back online. So enjoy all those old political rants and pictures of my dog.
- Looking back, a lot of what I used to post here is probably stuff I would just post on Twitter or Facebook today. I wonder if I would’ve ever started a blog if I’d had those tools back then.
- The first things I put on this site were little anecdotes and essays my friends wrote. I envisioned it as some kind of online magazine, and even after I started posting mostly my own stuff, they kept sending me links and pictures because they didn’t have anywhere else to post them online. Now that everybody’s mom can post videos about 20 different ways from a cell phone, it’s weird to think that it used to take quite a bit of technical knowhow to put a couple pictures online.
- Flickr really was awesome back in the day.
- And remember what a big deal moblogging used to be?
- I have a group of 5-6 friends from college who used to read what I posted every day, leave comments and generally make fun of me. It was really fun, and those comment threads make me laugh even today. I guess people do that kind of thing on Facebook now, but it’s not the same. I miss it.
- I’m now on my sixth different technology for running this site, and I have to say it’s astounding how simple and easy it is to run a blog today. I started in 2001 making web pages in Microsoft Frontpage, then I moved it to the first version of Blogger that generated HTML pages and FTPed them to a server. After that I used an early version of Movable Type that made you run your own SQL scripts to set it up, then I used the self-hosted WordPress from its beginnings up until now. You kids have it too easy today.
- Speaking of all that moving, I’m amazed I never lost any of that old stuff in the process. The oldest posts on this site are the same ones I pushed out of Frontpage in 2001. Yay me for planning well.
- And when I was working on setting up the new site this weekend, I told Debbie I don’t think it matters what the finished product looks like. I just like puttering around on a website for a hobby, like some people enjoy gardening or playing a musical instrument. It’s a combination of writing + mid-level computer geekery that’s right in my wheelhouse.
A final technical note: When I first registered the “wood-tang.com” domain, I didn’t really think about how that worked as a web address. I just did it that way because that’s how I used to write my stupid nickname. Over the years I learned it’s kinda lame to have a dash in a URL and it’s bothered me ever since. I bought the “woodtang.com” domain a couple years ago and didn’t know what to do with it, but when I moved the site I figured out how to make it work. If I mapped the domains and set all my nameservers correctly, everything should point here, sans dash, no matter how you type the address. Technology!
So I’m excited. Can you feel it? I’ll see you later this week. Or not.