wasting bandwidth since 1999

Tag: blogging (Page 1 of 11)

Thought Processing

Patrick fore 0gkw 9fy0eQ unsplash

Speaking of writing, as in the previous post, I came to this activity late in life.

Although most of my teaching career involved helping students understand the concepts of mathematics (which usually doesn’t include much traditional writing),1 I started in college as a history major. As a result I learned to craft an effective bluebook exam essay and build major research papers.

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What Can I Say?

Red and Yellow

At the end of last year (which now seems half a lifetime ago), I settled into a pretty regular schedule for writing around here. Three posts a week, plus one, usually a photo post, on the weekend. Not every entry was great, or even good, but I had a nice rhythm going.

It was going pretty well. Until the end of March when blogging discipline just fell apart, along with most of the rest of life.
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Celebrating The Blog… and Lesser Things

Screen shot of my website in 2000

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.

Bringing Back a More Spirited Web

Web Trend Map

That image above, resembling a subway map, is an imaginative visualization of the World Wide Web in 2007.1 The company that created this graphic, the design firm Information Architects, stopped updating it in 2011.

In a recent blog post, they explain why there won’t be a 2018 edition: “The most important ingredient for a Web Trend Map is missing: The Web.”

The Web has lost its spirit. The Web is no longer a distributed Web. It is, ironically, a couple of big tubes that belong to a handful of companies. Mainly Google (search), Facebook (social) and Amazon (e-commerce). There is an impressive Chinese line and there are some local players in Russia, Japan, here and there. Overall it has become monotonous and dull.

How can we fix that, and bring back at least some of that spirit? The folks at iA suggest we need more bloggers, those who used to write online and those new to the concept.

If you are one of those old or young bloggers, please join in. Drop Facebook, drop Twitter and drop Medium for original thought. Own your traffic. You can use them to engage in discussion. But don’t get lost in there. Write daily. Publish as often as you have something to say. Link to other blogs.

Completely agree. I would especially love to see more teachers online, posting content to their own domains instead of to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the other closed tubes. Creating communities of educators that own and control their message. Instead of producing material for greater advertising sales.

Thanks to Doug Belshaw for the link that triggered this rant. He includes lots of interesting links like that in his free weekly newsletter, Thought Shrapnel.

1. Click the image to see a larger, more readable version.

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