In high school, I had this group of friends. We ridiculously called ourselves the "Fab Five", one of those stupid things you do when you are 16 or 17. Also stupid: messing around in that one class you have to pass in order to graduate. You see, several of the Five were in the same English class in the last hour of the day of our senior year – a recipe for disaster.
Six weeks or so before the end of the year, some of us were in danger of failing the class. If that happened, we wouldn't be able to walk with our class at graduation – something the colleges we had already been accepted into might frown upon. Luckily, our final class group project accounted for a large portion of our grade and by working together, what could go wrong?
I don't remember what exactly the project covered, but we were able to cobble a video together using a VHS camcorder and a strobe light, if memory serves. We also created a web site for the project – a primitive sort of blog – where each of the group could record their thoughts. It was 1997, by the way. I created the website using Netscape Composer and hosted it on the free web space that came with my AOL account. Oh how I wish I could find those pages again. I'm almost certain clip art was involved.
Anyway, when it came time to present the project, we played our video and gave our presentation, then showed everyone how to pull the web page we had created up on the 20 or so Macintoshes that lined one wall of the classroom. Our teacher, who held us in some contempt and rightly so, was genuinely astonished. We all ended up passing the class. Disaster averted.
While I didn't realize it at the time, I was experiencing first hand, and for the first time, the power of self-publishing that the internet unleashed. Then it was just about saving my lazy, 17-year-old behind. Later, when I began developing websites in the early 2000s, blogs were the way to keep up with the latest techniques and trends. I'd never be where I am professionally today had it not been for blogs.
Over time our narrowing attention spans began to favor shorter form writing that either spawned from Twitter and Facebook or spawned Twitter and Facebook themselves, depending on who you talk to. Blogs began to take the back burner as it was much easier to fire off 140 characters than to sit down and think critically about an issue.
But like many trends, there is a resurgence of blogging and self-hosting one's content. Chris Shiflett has revived his Ideas of March movement, encouraging more blogging and self-publishing during the month of March. This aligns well with what we are doing with Koken, as we've also seen a desire from those who create digital content to control and curate their content on their own terms.
So, here's to the revival of blogging. For my part, I'm going to try and blog at least once a week this month. What say you?
Want to get involved? Blog your thoughts and share a link to them on twitter with the #ideasofmarch hashtag.