I see a lot of claims out there by people who claim to be the first blogger because they began doing it in 1997 or something like that. Well, I do not know if I am the first one ever, but I am certainly one of the first ones. In November 1994, I sat in Central Park and saw something funny. I went upstairs to my sister’s office in the Hotel des Artistes building (home of Café Des Artistes) and updated my website (manually because it was 1994) to include a new page about observations and wrote about it. And it’s still on the web today! In fact, almost everything I wrote about from 1994 to 2002 is available in an archive of my website as it was before I finally changed it all up and built a brand new one.
This site is a continuation of that second-gen site that I made in 2002. At that time, I believe I switched to Dave Winer’s Radio Userland tool and used that for some years. Then I experimented with Movable Type and a number of other tools. Then in Steptember, 2008, just over 10 years ago, I switched to WordPress and that’s been the engine behind my site ever since. (And considering I now work for the WordPress people, I highly doubt I will be changing my site out for something else any time soon!)
And blogging as a term did not come into usage until 1997 or so. So I don’t know what you call what I did for those first three years. Public journaling? Who knows? And, like I said, I do not claim to be the first, but I was certainly among the first ones. How many others have blog-style posts that are still online from November 1994 or before? Maybe one day I will try to find out.
So yesterday was my mumblemumble birthday. Some years I am more interested in the particular milestone (especially last year’s since it was a very milestone-y milestone) and some years it’s more of an excuse to be a bit more hedonistic. This year, it was pretty low-key. And that was just fine. I treated myself to a copy of Cosmic Encounter (yeah, I know, took me long enough) and I’ll be bringing that to my team meetup in San Diego hoping to get people to play with me (along with Illimat, Bears vs. Babies, an Italian Scopa deck, Fairytale Fluxx, one Munchkin variant, and whatever else I can fit into my suitcase).
The real birfday present this year is my new job at Automattic. I’ve worked at big companies before (Pfizer, Merck, even Dartmouth College fits into that category) and I’ve worked at even more smaller companies (Devis, WebCT, Ozmott, Intermarkets). Automattic is on the larger size (~850 people around the world) but I have never worked anywhere that felt so connected and involved. And that’s an amazing feat given that it is a 100% distributed company. There is no office. Everyone works from home. And because of that, the tools to keep everyone connected and functioning are very deep and very well thought out. It should come as no surprise that most of the infrastructure is built on top of WordPress itself (since, you know, WordPress and WordPress services are what we do) but it still amazes me at the richness and depth of it all.
And let’s talk about the people for a moment. What a creative, passionate, smart, and kind group of people! You learn very quickly (day 1 quickly) that communication is oxygen and that it is always OK to ask questions. No one is going to judge you because you do not know something. And those are not just words. When I have needed to know something, I pop into the relevant Slack channel, ask my question, get a cheerful and helpful response, and then I hop back off again. This pattern is repeated all over the company by so many people. People are genuinely giving and considerate and it’s amazing. And the people on my team are no exception. I get to meet all of them in San Diego soon and I am nervous but also excited.
And the projects themselves are refreshing and important and are rewarding to work on. After the last four and a half years, this is a much needed change.
So, that’s Birfday 2019.