Blogging: Then And Now

Subtitled: In Which I Explain How I Came To Be A Blogger

Sub-Subtitled: Blame It On The Dirt

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I read my first blog in the summer of 1997.  I was searching online {pre-Google} for info on gardening in clay dirt when I stumbled across this unique website by a regional gardener/college prof.  The website was called a weblog and I was amazed to discover that this weblog was updated on a weekly basis.  I could return to the site every week and learn something new!

I was smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality.  Yes!  This was my kind of place.

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But then my life got very busy and I forgot about weblogs.  In the fall of 2002 I read an article in a newspaper that linked to these new things called blogs— which I instantly realized were more advanced versions of the gardening weblog that I’d loved years before.  According to the newspaper article people were writing personal blogs that they filled like a diary or a scrapbook.  Then they shared their blogs with the world– and encouraged their readers to leave comments.  

Comments, I wondered?  What might this be?  So I followed the links in the newspaper and discovered that people were indeed now keeping daily blogs– and that readers were leaving their 2¢ on the blogs in a place called comments.

I was re-smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality combined with the ability to talk with people all over the world.  What was not to love?

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Soon thereafter I jumped into blogging.  First, I commented and emailed with bloggers I found {mostly by spending hours surfing the pre-Blogher net}.  Then, on the advice of a blogger friend, I started my own blog– which turned out to be a huge challenge to create and a great deal of fun to keep.  However, after about four years of being a daily blogger, I was tired of keeping a blog so I let it go and walked away from the blogosphere.

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Fast forward to the winter of 2011 when I decided that it was time for me to get back into blogging.   Much had changed in my life– and in the blogosphere– so I decided to start this blog with the understanding that I’d not post on a daily basis and that I’d write about whatever interests me in the moment.  Just because I could.

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IMHO, the coolest thing about blogging is– and always has been– that with a bit of desire and gumption anyone can have a blog.  That’s what hooked me on blogging in the first place.  Personal expression + instant connection.   

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Blogging has changed along the way into something more polished and more organized than the early versions that I fell in love with.  Having recently re-entered the blogosphere, I see four things about blogging that surprise me.  Whether they are idiosyncratic to my experiences or the norm, I could not say;   I’ll leave that for others to figure out.  All I know is that things are not as they once were– and I’m cool with that.

  1. Blogs all look very pretty now.  In fact, in the process of setting up this blog I have not once used a piece of code.  Amazing.  I spent hours & hours & hours working on the code to get my first blog to look passible.  Now, pretty is a given.
  2. Blogs are all classified into niches.  I’ve found very few generalists like myself.  Instead, everyone who keeps a blog is [or wants to be] an authority on one specific subject.  I see nothing wrong with this, but realize that connecting with other bloggers is more difficult because of it.  Blogging is not as open and free-form as it once was.
  3. Most blogs are monetized now.  That was a new concept when I left the blogosphere, but today it is ubiquitous.  I understand the reason why people are trying to make money off of their blogs.  However, adverts and product placements put a different vibe into the blogging mix;  one that wasn’t there years ago when people blogged just for the fun of it.
  4. Many blogs do not seem to want commenters– as much as followers.  I see a shift away from the comment section as a cocktail party {with everyone chatting it up & discussing all sides of an issue} to the comment section as standing in line at the coffee shop {with casual, polite encounters & indifferent shrugs}.  It’s a different take on what it means to connect and communicate with others.  I get it, but it has taken me awhile to adapt to this more reserved approach to commenting.

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I feel fortunate that I discovered blogging early on and allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to give it a try.  It has evolved so far from my first encounter with it in 1997– and I couldn’t be happier.  Yet different as it is now, the basic concept remains the same: info, updates & a bit of personality.

Yep, I’m still-smitten… after all these years.    

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

10 thoughts on “Blogging: Then And Now”

  1. So glad that you’ve found an outlet to express yourself. I’ve always been 100% behind you in your writing endeavors. I think you’re one of the most interesting writers I know. I’ve always said that you should write a book! I love your out takes on life. Keep it up!

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  2. Beth, thanks. I like the expressive part of blogging, but I also enjoy the friendship part of blogging. It’s the balance between the two that makes the whole blogging experience interesting to me.

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  3. I remember your first blogs, I think! (maybe not your very first, but fairly soon after that) I like the personal aspect of blogging and have no desire for the money part of it, not that I would qualify. Do you think I’m a generalist? Or am I just an old mommy blogger? HA HA

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  4. I used to fret about not monetizing my blog, like I was missing out on something. But I eventually figured out that I can’t blog as a business. I blog as a hobby, and am semi-inconsistent at that! (Well, I confess my Amazon links are monetized. I’ve made a whopping $10 off it in 3 years. I’m such a savvy business person like that.)

    The way you handle comments (ie: commenting in the comments section) has inspired me. I’m definitely going to do it more because it makes the comments so much more interesting and dynamic.

    I’m glad you returned to blogging. I loved the last one you did, and love this one too!

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  5. Margaret, you and I and the bloggy world go way back, don’t we? I love Stephanie’s description of your blog. So accurate.

    Stephanie, $10.00? That’s it?! lol. Well, now I’m sure that not monetizing my blog is a good thing. If you can’t make money with all the cleverness and cuteness that you put out there, then there’s no way that my random and abstract thoughts will pull in anything.

    And thanks for the compliments. They mean a lot to me.

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  6. I remember those days and you helping me with codes! I still have the emails for them! I always liked your writing so don’t stop this time!

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  7. Susan, how funny that you still have that info. And thanks for the compliment. I feel more at ease blogging this time, so I’ll stick with it for awhile– if for no other reason than to see what happens next .

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  8. Kacey, I’m a generalist blogger through and through. In real life I have to be specific, but here on my blog I can do what I want– which skews random.

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