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Unmasking the First Blogger – Weekly #2

February 9, 2010

The powers that be have tasked us with naming the first real blogger.

The secret is that there is no first blogger.

Contributions to the online form of blogging evolved since the inception of the internet As Scott Rosenberg points out in Say Everything, “the efforts to identify a “first blog” are comical, and ultimately futile, because blogging was not invented; it evolved.” (81)

While Jorn Barger deserves nomenclatural credit for coining “weblog” on his Robot Wisdom site in 1997, this credit must be shared with Peter Merholz for shortening the term to “blog” on in 1999.

Surely Howard Rheingold with his Web pages of personal links in 1995 and Justin Hall’s 1996 online dairy were notable trailblazers to what blogging has become today. But each man was standing on the shoulders of past precedent: narrative as an integral part of culture, the tribal need for connection and egalitarianism, the human desire for a voice.

Although “blogging” is a neologism, these drivers are not; and it is important to remember that the online blog a vehicle for pre-existing forces of expression. As Markos Moulitsas Zuniga ‘Kos’ states, “One of my biggest pet peeves is the way this whole blogging thing is being held up as some sort of end in itself…And it’s not true. Blogs are a tool, an instrument, nothing more” (143).

In this light, the first blogger is the first person who wanted to branch out and connect, to share things with others, to explain him or her self in a way that felt right and authentic.

Our increasingly isolated style of living (exacerbated by accelerated mobility, corporate flux, suburban housing structure, etc.) has led many to blogging as a way to fulfill basic human needs of expression and engagement. For more on this topic see Bowling Alone and loneliness, two data-packed reads that show how our cultural fabric has disintegrated and the devastating impact that disintegration has on normal functioning. 

The parasocial relationships facilitated by blogging are in many ways an inevitable by-product of our times.

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