A Brief Unofficial History of Blogging

I’ve blogged off and on since before it had a name, so I thought I’d share my version of how it got started.

Before it was shortened to blog, it was called a weblog, pronounced “we blog”. It is easy to see how that was shortened to “blog”, but what is less well known is that “we blog” is a re-spacing of the original “web log” . The order of succession was “web log”, “weblog”, and currently “blog”.

So what was a web log?

Back in the early days of the Internet, it was common for computer folks at colleges, big computer businesses, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to watch and maintain computers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since humans need time off even if computers don’t, this meant people working in shifts.

It is worth noting that about that same time; some of the first commonly used Internet scripts were forms that could read and write to flat text files.

Computer geeks being the clever folks that they were, it didn’t take long to figure out that using a form script was a near ideal way to leave log notes for the folks on the next shift. Routine and not so routine maintenance issues could be noted, and other information passed. The early versions were simple and basic, because generally they were hacked together in a few minutes where function was favored over frills, and basically what they replaced was a clipboard with a pen tied to it. I speak from experience as I wrote the one the company I worked for at the time used. It was a hit and big help as it ended the issue with people stealing the pen from the clipboard and not putting it back.

To be clear, I’m not claiming to be personally directly responsible for blogs, more that the tools became available and a lot of folks made use of them in similar ways. It was more a matter of if you give someone a pitcher and a glass, it is only a matter of time before at least a few folks pour themselves a drink, or how lots of folks when presented with a database will figure out they are good for putting addresses in. The time was just right to fill a need.

Since the form scripts used Perl (an early Internet friendly scripting language) the difference between having the log private or public was the directory (folder) it was placed in. This led to folks being able to quickly leave notes that were out on the web (in some instances accidentally), giving birth to the original blogs.

Different folks have taken credit over the years for coining and popularizing the terms involved, but the phenomenon itself was the result of the actions of countless nameless geeks that paved the way.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.