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3 Turning Points in the History of Blogging

A blogging pioneer picks out three major events that forever changed online (and "dead tree") media.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

September 12, 2012 - 8:45 am

9/11

Most received wisdom is wrong, but I can attest to the accuracy of the cliche that “the blogosphere” was birthed in the ashes of the WTC.

Instantaneously alienated from my last remaining leftist friends (and living in one of the farthest-left cities on the continent), I took to the web searching for others as pissed off as I was — people who weren’t fretting about “root causes” or that “backlash against Muslims” that never materialized.

Ironically, my search got a boost in the (what we’d later call “dead tree”) pages of Canada’s newest paper, the National Post.

The Post’s Robert Fulford, an eminence grise of Canadian newspapers, regularly steered his readers to Arts and Letters Daily, another proto-blog.

Fulford acknowledged that A&LD – a simple, elegant daily aggregator — violated everything he’d learned over five decades in the business: that is, the site attracted readers with the express purposed of sending them to other websites.

It was the Miracle on 34th Street business plan (assuming A&LD even had something as grandiose as a “business plan” at all).

And that paradoxical strategy was working. Sort of. Somehow. (A&LD wasn’t exactly raking in millions of dollars in revenue, and isn’t doing so today, either.)

At the time, blogs were widely dismissed by old-media types as laughably quotidian personal diaries. Fulford was one of the first of his ilk to sense that these online journals could easily be (virtually) rolled up and used as megaphones, too. This hyperlinking stuff just might be, mused Fulford, the future of news.

Slowly, I cobbled together a gang of new “friends” composed of Canadian, British, Australian, and American bloggers – later dubbed “the Anglosphere.” This gang served as a sort of online support system.

Soon I found myself part of another one.

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