Is there a first blogger?
How did blogging begin? And who should be awarded the title “first blogger”? Is there a set definition for the word “blog” which is still auto-corrected as I type this post on my Word document? These are all questions raising curiosity among many, prompting some blog pioneers to pretend for the title, and media to make misinterpretations and mark “blogging anniversaries”.
The book Say Everything by Scott Rosenberg, which I recently read, took me through the rise and evolution of blogging and how it has been impacting different aspects of our daily lives. It also helped me find answers to the questions raised above. Say Everything is the first book I read about blogging, and up to that moment I had a very little understanding about its purpose. In all honesty, I did not care much, if at all, about when, where, and why it started. However, I was almost immediately intrigued by the personal stories of the people who were putting the foundations of what is now called ” blog” and it felt like I was reading a novel.
In order to understand who started or invented something, we first need to have a clear idea what is it exactly that they invented, in our case, what is the essence of the blog. And I don’t believe that there is a clear definition of a blog at this point. After reading the book, I believe that is more than just the common perception of a personal web page with frequent updates sorted in reverse chronological order. I believe that it is the motif behind starting a blog that matters which, throughout the reading process I concluded, is the need for interaction, sharing and promoting ideas, or simply said – the expression of self.
Justin Hall had a desire to expose intimate details about himself on the available then means for online communication which was his personal website. David Winer’s first serious engagement with the Web was prompted by his disagreement with the controlled traditional media, and he first promoted his ideas by mailing lists until the moment he introduced Scripting News. Meg Horighan’s and Ev Williams’s fascination with the Web and the “web people”, whom Meg herself describes as wanting to create “things worth reading, worth covering, worth envying, worth loving”, and their self identification as such people, found expression in the Pyra App, the Evhead blog, and later in the introduction of Blogger. Josh Micah Marshall put the start of the political blogging with Talking Points Memo.
These are just to name a few. The point is that they all started by using simple technological tools, which later evolved to what we now know as a “web log” with all its complexities, and they were all encouraged by the desire to create, share and absorb information. In the face of the Web they all found a world of freedom and honesty without boundaries, except the ones they set themselves.
So, knowing all these people’s individual stories, I consider the start of blogging not when the term was officially introduced but when the idea of it hit all these people. It is hard to determine when this happened, this is why there is no such person as a first blogger. It seems to me that blogging developed simultaneously among a few people who discovered the Web as a an uncontrolled means to share ideas and create powerful movements; it did not have a single starting point, and it is what it is now due to multiple contributions and motives. It just kept taking different forms with the technology advancement during the years. And many of these people, the first bloggers, did contribute to the progress of internet technology themselves.
Besides reading the book, you can read what Scott Rosenberg has written about who the first blogger is which he has expressed in his blog Scott Rosenberg’s Wordyard.