Happy 20th birthday to blogging!

Just a note to record the fact that blogging is 20 years old this month, maybe. New media legend Dave Winer, a rare combination of great writer and programmer, started posting at DaveNet on 7 October 1994, as Philip Greenspun points out. There was no announcement that Winer had invented a new genre, but I can’t really find anything that looks like a blog going back much earlier than that – though writer Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor got started around the same time and Justin Hall was also getting busy.

DaveNet started as the web version of Winer’s email newsletter, but having found the web-based format was popular, he started pushing through classic weblog fodder – short thoughts, links, and reflections on stuff other people were saying.

Having invented the weblog, Winer then helped to develop RSS and co-invented podcasting, proselytised for proper web content management systems, built outliners and basically helped invent the media landscape we have today. What a guy.

As Greenspun puts it:

The standard HTTP/HTML Web was and is great for 3-30-page ideas. Winer was perhaps the first person to see that the world needed some different technical standards to deal with three-paragraph ideas.

People frequently see blogging as something completely new. In fact, though, it has quite a few media predecessors, notably the personal diary. From one perspective, a blog was simply a way of publishing your own diary to a mass audience. But it also had a number of new aspects: for instance, it frequently used links to exploit the availability of huge numbers of online media sources.

Blogging was also one of the first online media products to showcase online brevity. Facebook and Twitter* then came along and underlined this unexpected development. Indeed, for all the talk about the wonders to come from ultra-fast broadband, the big online media developments of the past two decades have to a surprising degree been about short written content.

* Fun online media “fact”: I read somewhere long ago – and perhaps it’s even true – that the average Victorian-era diary entry would fit comfortably within Twitter’s 140-character limit.

About David Walker

David Walker runs publishing consultancy Shorewalker DMS (shorewalker.net) and is commissioning editor of Acuity magazine. David has previously edited the award-winning INTHEBLACK business magazine, been chief operating officer of online publisher WorkDay Media, held policy and communications roles at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and the Business Council of Australia, and run the website for online finance start-up eChoice. He has written professionally on economics, business and public policy since 1987 and spent three years in the Canberra Press Gallery for News Limited and The Age.
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3 Responses to Happy 20th birthday to blogging!

  1. Duncan Riley says:

    Dubious claim at the very best, and even Winer doesn’t claim that he started blogging until Scripting News…well, unless he’s revised history in the last 10 years.

    I wrote on the history of Blogging back in 2005, that was based on research and contacting the likes of Winer at the time.

    Dave Net existed in 94 but it wasn’t dated at the time, and as per above even Winer didn’t consider it blogging.

    Realistically it’s Justin Hall (your year is write, but person is wrong,) but that’s not in anyway trying to down play that Dave Winer really is the father of blogging in many ways.

  2. Duncan Riley says:

    sorry right not write, all this talk about writing :)

  3. David Walker says:

    Nice article, Duncan. I have a memory of DaveNet as a blog, but I may have back-constructed that memory in the late 1990s. Winer does now see 1994 as the start date:
    http://scripting.com/2014/10/15/someoneHadToGoFirst.html

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