Welcome To Our Second Anniversary!
On March 1st, 2002, EdDriscoll.com, a radical new experiment in Internet self-publishing, not to mention self-promotion, was born. And the Internet hasn’t been the same since.
OK, actually, it wasn’t that radical a new experiment, and the Internet would probably get along just fine without us. Unlike some of the folks who’ve parlayed Weblogs into steady writing gigs, I was a freelance journalist who came to the Web after publishing numerous “dead tree” articles. Obviously, Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit was the chief model for our site, and its look. As I’ve written before, I had seen Virginia Postrel’s Weblog, but prior to 9/11, hadn’t really thought it as such–to me, it was an E-Zine, and I didn’t want to manually FTP up new pages every day. At the time, the term “Weblog” meant to me lame diaries about what their authors had done that day–and I doubted that the world really cared which shopping mall I had last been in. James Lileks’ brilliant writing is the exception that proves the rule: very, very few authors, whether they’re on the Web or dead tree, have the textual chops to make daily personal details interesting.
But I had read Glenn’s Weblog in early September of 2001, when I discovered it doing a Google vanity search (he had linked to one of my first NRO pieces). It was the combination of seeing the Blogger logo then on his site, and then my frequent reading of it, Postrel’s, Sgt. Stryker’s and Joanne Jacobs’ in the dark days immediately after 9/11 that caused me to put all the pieces together in my head: Weblogs could comment on the news, express a different slant from what Big Media wanted to say about a topic, and allow anyone to have his or her personal daily editorial page. And since the media usually does a terrible job at covering a war, Weblogs gained a large new audience as they had a field day pointing out the biases and errors of the media. This seemed like pretty cool stuff to me.
At the time, I was still using a lame CompuServe email address that took forever to spell out whenever I did an interview. In early 2002, when I discovered that the EdDriscoll.com URL was available, I immediately grabbed it, if only for an email address with a professional sound to it, and then figured that Blogger’s templates would allow a decent looking site to go up fairly painlessly, even with my limited HTML skills.
A further bit of luck was on my side: my good friend, “Group Captain Mandrake” (whom you may know from his Across The Atlantic Weblog), was not only visiting Sillicon Valley for a few weeks in early 2002, but even more fortunately, he was staying in my house. So his HTML knowledge and general Internet chops were a Godsend. (And it worked out nicely for him as well, as my efforts here quickly inspired him to launch his own blog. In a way, just as InstaPundit has launched a surfeit of Weblogs, this site has given birth to at least one spin-off of its own.)
Shortly before I launched the site, I did an article for the late, lamented SpinTech site, (and since republished by Catholic Exchange) interviewing some of the elite of the Blogosphere: the afore mentioned Reynolds, Jacobs, and Paul Palubicki, who back then was still going exclusively by his nom de Air Force, Sgt. Stryker. I think holds up fairly well as a good snapshot of the days immediately after 9/11, and what was coalescing in mind as I put the ideas for this site together.
Fortunately, many of the people I interviewed before the site was launched were happy to link to it once I established my beachhead, Deep Space Nine, Delta House (call it what you will) on the ‘Net, and many others have since linked as well. And we were able to hit the ground running–and typing. And typing. And typing some more…
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that Weblogs are astonishingly easy to start–and as CNN recently tried not to say, about seven million people have done just that. (And not all inspired by InstaPundit!) But it can be difficult for many people to keep them going, and I definitely miss some of the sites who were around before I started and have since fallen by the wayside, such as Protein Wisdom, Patrick Ruffini, and others.
But as we go into year number three, I’m still here and still having fun. Writing a Weblog is very different than writing a magazine article or a book. The difference between longform articles and chapters and short posts full of HTML code that link and comment on someone else’s reporting is almost a right brain/left brain equation. But the two formats work nicely together–there’s no doubt that this Blog has lead to numerous additional paid articles, and it’s allowed me to expand, discuss and update those articles as well. It’s also lead directly to our regular gigs at Tech Central Station and Blogcritics, and we’d like to thank Nick Schulz and Eric Olsen, respectively, for letting me hang my fedora there as well.
So Rush may have half his brain tied behind his back, but I’m using both sides of mine, and plan to continue for some time to come.
Thanks for sticking around and making it all possible!