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.

Smoke in the Cheap Seats with You

Well, they told me just what I should do, so I told them all to go for a screw.

Off of my case. I needed my space, in a good place.

So I, smoke in the cheap seats with you, and we smoke for those that haven’t a clue.

They wear their bling like we care. They can shove it up their derrière.

I can’t take the pace. I want to look at your face, not run the rat race.

So I, smoke in the cheap seats with you, and we smoke for those that haven’t a clue.

Just between you and I. This world makes me cry.

But come what may, after sharing a jay, this day is okay.

So 1, smoke in the cheap seats with you, and we smoke for those that haven’t a clue.

Deep Thunk and Learning Machine Learning

Programming machine learning has been an interest of mine for decades. the last time I seriously looked into it, the technology just wasn’t there for the sorts of things I was interested in doing. Then I got busy doing other things.

Well, due to a conversation I had with a chip designing friend of mine, I thought it was time to give it another look. The available resources and programming tools for coding and using it in practical applications has grown incredibly fast in the past few years.

I’ll probably write at least a couple of articles on it, but as a “hello world” sort of thing to try and play with I decided to write up a pretty simple program that could use machine learning to train itself.

To keep things simple, I started with a nearby pile of data. Namely a bunch of articles and links to book chapters about Neural Nets and K Nearest Neighbors and the like which I intended on reading and studying.

I’m going to skip over the details of how it works for now, because I’m not sure what I’ll wind up doing with it. The gist of it is that you first put in the title, URL, and text for a bunch of articles. Then the program does a bit of hocus pocus with cleaning it up and counting words and a few other things, and spits out a list of suggested categories and what articles it thinks belongs in each category.

It sounds simple enough to do, but getting a computer to make decisions like that can be tricky. On the up side, when it works it can be particularly helpful in first pass sorts of sorting and filtering. Time will tell how things go with it, and how far I take it, but it has been a good experience so far, and I have a much better understanding of some of the theories involved, although I will confess some of the math is over my head.