GirlHacker's Random Log

almost daily since 1999

Ten Years, Two Months


This weblog began as a means for me to write regularly and share interesting finds from the scattered pages of the World Wide Web. Something happened along the way that in hindsight seems obvious but was never a goal for me, never even a side thought.

The weblog community when I started in 1999 was small. had a “recently updated” list on the home page with weblogs separated by hours, then as months passed, minutes, and eventually the timestamps were irrelevant as the phenomenon boomed. Now every media outlet of any worth is on the Internet and weblogs are more common than personal home pages (remember those?). My source material for blog posts has changed. Back then, it was about fortuitously clicking into a guy’s website devoted to his personal tea bag collection. Now it’s also about finding an article in a local paper about a museum’s tea bag exhibit, searching to see who else wrote about tea bags, and also killing the idea if too many people have written about it and I have nothing to add. Behind all the visible growth and changes, there were people. People sharing and, more importantly, people connecting.

Along the way, readers sent me emails with interesting links and thoughts on my posts. I emailed other bloggers links and opinions. I sent several people to a new place called Metafilter that I visited often. Fast forward ten years and that circle of people is my online community, one that is as vital as the friends I see in person. And because of the convenience of the Internet, the people are actually more accessible and available than friends I need to plan to get together with or call or even email.

One vital member of the early weblog community was Brad L. Graham who passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Brad brought many bloggers together in those early days and continued to do so. He knew from the beginning that it was about the people because that’s the kind of person he was. “Sense of community” was a key point in his “Why I Weblog” essay back in June of 1999. And, this being the Internet, “people together” didn’t have to mean people physically in one place (though his regular “Break Bread with Brad” events did that too). It meant online forums, sites like MetaFilter, comments on weblogs, email discussions. I touched base with Brad and several other friends regularly in one of these communities. His was an energizing and funny voice. We shared a love of Buffy and Broadway; I watched every video, visited every link he shared because I knew it would be funny or thought-provoking and it was usually both. Each day he’s been gone from our lives has made it all the more clear that even a virtual presence can create defining, bonding moments in people’s lives and friendships.

When I thought about how to approach my “ten year anniversary” post I knew I wanted to write about the community and I wanted to, as usual, thank the people who helped me along the way. I also knew I wanted to get off the daily posting treadmill. Getting that all into a form I felt worthy of capping off ten years was daunting enough that I delayed for weeks. Then Brad died, throwing me off balance entirely. And as I spent my time reconnecting with friends of Brad instead of writing, it became even clearer that while the point of this exercise may have been about the writing, it ended up being about the people.

I’m still here, not producing as much, but thinking about what to do next both with the weblog and my ever-present goal of writing. I have a backlog of post ideas that have accumulated, waiting for my usual research. Ten years of weblogging as a discipline has been valuable, but ten years of friendships and community altered my life. Thank you Brad, thank you to his friends, you all know who you are, thank you, and here’s to keeping the World Wide Web a welcoming place to visit.

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