My very first blog post occurred ten years ago, today. The oldest archives are no longer attached to this blog, but can be found at http://web.archive.org/web/20020923154740/http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com/ The world has changed a lot since then, and so have I.
When I first got into blogging, very few people knew what a blog was, and even fewer were actually blogging. Blogs, (the word being a shortened form of “web log”) were first created for the purpose of creating reference lists to things found on the internet. They were a device used mostly by journalists (news reporters), and most of them worked in print media. The first bloggers had to build their blogs from scratch, requiring them to have extensive knowledge of HTML, the computer code used for building web sites.
There was no small amount of confusion generated by my blog, as the author, (me), made claims to being homeless. People could not bring themselves to believe that a homeless person would have knowledge of such cutting edge technology, and they assumed that anyone who did know HTML would certainly have the capacity for maintaining an income and a home. Even more so, people could not comprehend the idea of a homeless person having a computer and access to the internet.
What most people were unaware of was a new tech company that was providing web space and an extremely user friendly interface for the purpose of blogging. The name of the company was Pyra, (one of the people involved with Pyra was Biz Stone, the creator of Twitter). This service was called Blogger, and the domain name was Blogspot.com. All that was required of an author to use Blogger was to provide a title, write the text, and then post it to the internet by clicking on the “publish” button. Pretty simple stuff. Still, people were crediting me with computer skills I didn’t have.
Prya was taking blogs in a new direction, seeing a potential for blogs beyond that of logging one’s internet finds on a web page. The idea had come to them that blogs could be a type of internet venue where people could express themselves, and with bloggers interacting with each other, conversations could take place, and community could develop. (which is pretty much the same idea that launched Twitter.)
As with many homeless people, I was a frequent patron of the downtown library, and it was there that I first gained access to the internet. It started for me in 1998. At that point the library had a total of two computers for patron use. On those computers I stumbled onto Yahoo’s Geocities and with that created my first web pages, learning the basics of HTML as I went along. Some time later, with a grant from Bill Gates, the library opened a bank of some 12 computers.
During that time, I started getting into online discussion groups. Of particular interest was the discussion board for Sarah Mason, a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter who had reached a certain level of popularity. It just happened that Sarah also was a member of the Downtown Presbyterian Church, a church I attended, mostly because of their Wednesday lunch for the homeless.
In 2001 a brand new downtown library opened, sporting some 100 computers dedicated to patron use. When this new library opened I spent most every day there, spending nearly every hour on the internet. Early on, most people were unaware that those computers were available, so getting access to them was not a problem. As per usual, I was having a difficult time socializing with people on these discussion boards. People were often saying things I disagreed with, and I could not resist responding with my own opinion, often irately so. For some reason, I often found other people’s opinions to be irritating – an irritation that I could not suppress.
Eventually it was suggested to me, by the people on Sarah’s discussion board, that I should try blogging as perhaps a better venue for expressing myself. At first I was hesitant, as my experiences with Geocities had me believing that blogging would be mostly an exercise in self indulgence. After a short time, and some discussion with people on the discussion boards about blogging, I opened my blogger account. After some time familiarizing myself with blogger and how it worked, I made my first post.