Today marks the twentieth anniversary of AssortedStuff.com.
Not this blog; that came along several years later.
It doesn’t even mark the first time I posted a site to the web. That happened several years earlier when my ISP (very much a dial-up service) began offering a small amount of space for posting HTML pages, with the very unintuitive address of www.infinet.com/~tstahmer
No, it was twenty years ago today that I first took a lease on this domain name.1 Back in the days when the web was still a very new toy and so many interesting dot com names were available… and I chose AssortedStuff.com anyway. It’s rather boring story.
Ok, so this particular event is little cause for general celebration, but I think it’s pretty cool. And it’s my website.
Speaking of blogs, this year is also the twentieth anniversary of the noun “blog”, a mashup of “web log”. Not long after, the term was turned into a verb, as is done with far too many nouns these days.
I’m not even sure I was aware of blogs in 1999. This was long before Twitter and other social networks. The first I remember hearing about the idea was in a talk by Will Richardson and discussions with other educators at a NECC conference, probably around 2002.
But, as I said, this domain predates my blogging. My original goal in establishing this small web island was two-fold.
First, being a card carrying geek, I wanted to experiment with running a website. Something with a unique name, on a server I had some control over. Since owning that server was way outside the budget, a shared hosting account and a .com domain were the best I could do.2
The second purpose was to continue posting my narrowly curated set of resources for teachers who wanted to use the internet in their instruction. But a little fancier than just lists of links on a page. Sort of a very narrowly defined version of the then-dominant Yahoo directory.
That graphic up there, pulled from the Internet Archives Wayback Machine, is an early version of my attempt to craft a website. Please don’t laugh too loud. It was the best I could do using my limited graphic skills, and a basic understanding of the software called Fireworks and GoLive (both later bought and killed by Adobe).
Anyway, anniversaries like this are welcome opportunities to renew vows, rejuvenate traditions, and build on foundations. So, I’ll end this meandering rant with this wonderful and very appropriate thought from one of many posts I’ve run across celebrating this year’s unofficial anniversary of the blog.
Technologies, like hemlines, go up and down. It was all about the web, then AOL, then “push,” then Web 2.0, then email was “dead.” Then came social media, then Slacks. Along the way newsletters popped back up, almost as if they were a new thing (my first one, which I founded while an editor at Tower Records, ran for a decade, beginning in 1994), and the podcast has had a second, robust economic and cultural life.
Throughout, blogs just worked, even if they’ve seen better days. Self-publishing is at the heart of the healthy internet. It’s truly self-publishing when the URL and the means of production are your own. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the word “blog” by thinking of something important to you and then blogging regularly about it.
And that is exactly how I plan to continue using my small corner of the great big web. I would love to see more educators doing the same, blogging about whatever they find interesting.
1. As far as I know, no one “owns” their domain. It’s more of a year-to-year lease, up to ten years at a time if you’re willing to pay upfront.
2. I think I paid $50 a year for the registration through Network Solutions, at the time one of two companies authorized to “sell” domains. The hosting service was around $15 a month and offered very little storage space. Of course, at the time, I didn’t require much.