A short history of blogging

Duncan Riley> Despite having far too many other things to do this year, I promised myself I would try to put down a book and slowly but surely its coming together. No title yet, but it will be a blogging guide of sorts.

I’m not going to post every part of the process here, although if your interested or even better a publisher, please don’t hesitate in contacting me.

What I need some guideance on is the history of blogging. What follows is the first draft of Chapter 3: A Short History of Blogging. My writing style is to write to the end without editing, then go back and add and amend with the reflection of time and space, and this hasn’t had that treatment yet, and will probably be expanded and totally changed before going to press, but for those interested in the subject please enjoy, and for those who may know more of the history than please, please dont hesitate in correcting any errors in the comments of this post.

A Short History of Blogging

The Word

The first use of the term weblog in relation to the delivery of content on a website comes from the delivery of a paper titled “Exploiting the World-Wide Web for Electronic Meeting Document Analysis and Management” by G. Raikundalia & M. Rees, two lecturers from Bond University on the Gold Coast, Australia made to a conference on August 14, 1995.

The paper discussed the use of

“a Web browser access to various meeting document information, such as minutes, tabled documents, reports and document indexes. Applications are being developed to take standard electronic meeting log files, postprocess them in a variety of ways, and generate a series of indexes and summary files. These files are formatted in HTML and exploit hyperlinks to the full in order to relate the different types of information.”

Although the paper is aimed at the recording of electronic meetings, the processes described reflect strongly on what blogs evolved into.

Interestingly the term “Weblog” is not featured on the remaining record of the paper, which is now hosted at the Charles Sturt University website, but is featured in its correct context in a Usenet post promoting the papers delivery at Bond posted on August 6, 1995.

Popular use of the term Weblog as we know it today cam from Jorn Barger of the weblog Robot Wisdom (robotwisdom.com) in December 1997.

The concept

The origins of modern blogging are often as argued about as what blogging is.

Many point to blogs as websites or webpages that provided links and comments to other pages, and its is from this basis that modern blogs emerged.

Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web, first posted a web page in 1992 at CERN that kept a list of all new web sites as they come online.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) started a What’s New list of sites in June 1993. Notably the site provided entries sorts by date and the What’s New links included commentary. This service was eventually taken over by Netscape in what became on of the more popular web sites of its time.

In January 1994, Justin Hall launches Justin’s Home Page which would later become Links from the Underground. The site included links to and reviews of other sites. Notably on 10 January 1996, Hall commences writing an online journal with dated daily entries, although each daily post is linked by through an index page. Of the journal he writes
“Some days, before I go to bed, I think about my day, and how it meshed with my life, and I write a little about what learned me.”

In February 1996, Dave Winer writes a weblog that chronicles the 24 Hours of Democracy Project.

In April, Winer launches a news page for users of Frontier Software, that goes onto became Scripting News in 1997, one of the oldest weblogs remaining on the net today. The company he heads, Userland goes on to release Radio Userland, one of the first blogging software tools.

After Jorn Barger introduced the term weblog into popular use in December 1997, blogging as we now know it continued to develop.

In November 1998, Cameron Barrett published the first list of blog sites on Camworld.

In early 1999 Peter Merholz coins the term blog after announcing he was going to pronounce web blogs as “wee-blog”, that was then shortened to blog. At this stage, a list maintened by Jesse James Garrett recorded that there were 23 known weblogs in existence.

As blogging started to grow in 1999, the first portal dedicated to listing blogs was launched, Brigitte Eaton launched the Eatonweb Portal. Eaton evaluated all submissions by a simple assessment that the site consist of dated entries, one of the criteria we use to day in identifying a blog.

In May 1999, Scott Rosenberg at Salon.com writes one of the first media articles on the emergence of weblogs and refers to the growing number of “Web Journalists”.

In August 1999, Pyra Labs, today owned by Google, launches the free Blogger blogging service, that for the first time provides an easy set of tools for anyone to set up a blog. Other services launched around the same time include Pitas and Groksoup, neither of which capture the imagination of bloggers in the same way as Blogger did.

Over the following 12 months, blogs explode, new companies and tools enter the market. The rest, as they say, is history.

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  1. says

    I’m going to go out on a limb and wonder if Philly Future was the first blog to be focused on a city or geographical region – December of 1999 – on Dave Winer’s early and empowering EditThisPage.com hosting service.

    EditThisPage.com and Manila should be mentioned. Huge long term impact.

  2. says

    hey mr. duncan
    some blog surfer left a wierd comment on my site about the history of blogs. Are all the people you mention in your ‘history of blogging’ hippies?
    Do reply

    Some curious blogger


  1. Apuntes para una historia de la blogosfera
    pero hay que agradecerle a Duncan la iniciativa y el ofrecimiento de participación que realiza a través de las páginas de The Blog Herald.

  2. The history of weblogs
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  5. […] Via Deltoid: the higher education supplement of The Australian newspaper this week has a couple of articles on academic blogging in Australia. (Choice quote from the first link: ‘A spate of studies has shown that making articles available online boosts citations by 50 to 250 percent.’) Hopefully this will encourage more Australian academics and students to take up this noble pursuit—there are disappointingly few of us, even though the term “weblog” was (apparently) coined by two Australian academics in 1995! As far as I know, I’m the only history blogger in the Australian academy (and as a lowly PhD student, I’m only just in the academy :) If there are any others out there, give us a cooee in the comments. air-minded, adj. […]

  6. […] I don’t want to take away from Dave, and indeed he deserves far better treatment in the blogosphere and MSM than he gets, he did many, many great things that were not only vital, but intrinsic in the foundation of the blogosphere and the craft of blogging we know it today, but I can’t rewrite history, and Dave was second. As I wrote 2 years ago at The Blog Herald: […]

  7. […] A expressão “weblog” foi utilizada originalmente por G. Raikundalia e M. Rees numa conferência em 1995 [5]. Não obstante, o conceito que actualmente associamos ao termo foi utilizado pela primeira vez em Dezembro de 1997, por Jorn Barger (o primeiro a designar a sua página Robot Wisdom como “weblog”). Como nos relembra Rebecca Blood [6], a palavra “blog” seria introduzida no início de 1999, na sequência do anúncio de Peter Merholz, de que iria pronunciar o termo weblog como “wee-blog”. […]

  8. […] According to the Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1997 was the birthday of blogging, when Jorn Barger decided to create a weblog called Robot Wisdom that gathered links discovered while browsing the Internet. The Oxford English Dictionary credits this moment as the birth of the weblog, making blogging official 10 years old this year.  Duncan Riley disagrees, stating that blogging recent celebrated it’s 11th birthday in January. […]

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  11. […] An early attempt to list all blogs was made by Cameron Barrett on Camworld in November 1998. This original list is still available on his blog and is now published as his blogroll. “The original blogroll” resembles both a blogging community and an early blog index. With the growing popularity of blogs index and search engines such as Eatonweb came into existence. […]