Around 10 years ago today, one of the first blogs was authored by a gentleman named Jorn Barger, called Robot Wisdom. In the beginning, he wrote content that consisted of short commentaries and links, but in 2000 he began to experiment with a timeline-based format which blogs are known for today (that is, the reverse chronological format today).
But was it The First?
Well, it wasn’t.
And therein lies the debate we may always end up having, as Jorn Barger may have coined the term “blog”, but in fact was not the very first individual posting to what is currently known as a blog.
Dave Winer, AKA “the Godfather of Blogging”, created a reverse-chronological series of postings a year earlier, chronicling the 24 Hours Of Democracy Project, while he was a contributing editor at Wired. A year later, Scripting News was born, which he continues to author until this very day.
But was there anyone before that?
Duncan Riley, the original editor (and author) of this blog put together an interesting post a couple of years ago that goes into the history of blogging, and states that there was a Justin Hall, who created a website in 1994 eventually evolving into an online diary in January of 1996, the form of which could easily be argued is a blog.
Or how about Jason D. O’Grady? This gent writes a blog on Apple called “The Apple Core” at ZDNet, and states that *he* authored an online journal about Powerbooks since 1995, called PowerPage, and still carries on to this day (although the original URL was ogrady.org, where the original entries can indeed be found through the WayBackMachine)
We may never actually know who wrote the very first online digital “diary”, written in reverse chronological format, only the people who have actually written one and have actually stepped forward to provide evidence for it. For instance, I remember putting together some journal like entries in a Geocities page in 1994, but I’m surely not going to be able to find evidence for it now, and I’m certainly not going to claim that I am the father of anything.
As a recent article in Ars Technica comments, perhaps the bigger issue today isn’t so much when blogging started but where its going, and how we are going to continue to define it as it was coined at least 10 years ago now. Blogs may have started out as “online diaries”, but they’ve clearly evolved into much more than that. And of course there are the old chestnuts about blogs necessarily having to have comments to be a blog? How about trackbacks? And are the big multi-authored blogs like TechCrunch *really* blogs anymore?
2008 is right around the corner, and I think many of these kinds of issues are still up for debate — even as blogging matures as a means for self-expression, a vehicle for marketing and branding, and an efficient tool to bring news and have conversations with the masses.