Twenty years of blogging

On this day in 2001, an astonishing 20 years ago, I set up my blog. My first post was not particularly enthralling. It wasn't my first website; that was in 1995 and is lost to the mists of time. It wasn't even my first website called; I had created several versions that predated the word "blogging", I was just adding a blog feature to a site that had been around for a year already.

Twenty years is an extraordinarily long time to commit to any one endeavor, though the frequency has changed dramatically. I used to post single sentences, multiple times a day. My Twitter account absorbed those sorts of posts first, but I continued to post longer-form things here, but these days I regularly post 2,000-word biographical sketches directly to Twitter as huge chains. But I'm keeping the blog; you never know what could happen to Twitter.

I have written several thousand posts at this point, and I thought a 20 year anniversary was a decent time to look back at some of them.

For a few years an introspective piece I wrote called, ambitiously, How To Be Happy was the first result on a still-young Google for that phrase. Apparently people search for that pretty regularly! At the time I was also a regular on Slashdot and 21-year-old me wrote a lot of stuff that basically reads like the stuff you read on Hacker News these days.

While still in college I used to write poetry of variable quality as well as the lyrics for original pop songs that I could not compose or sing. I wrote heartbreaking laments about my relationship with my father, which 15 years, some hard conversations and a fair amount of therapy have since repaired.

I marked a great deal of major events. 9/11, London's own 7/7, graduating from college, my first job after college, my first apartment.

Something of a theme has been writing about defining myself. I talked vaguely about my mission in life, about creating, more prosaically about why I don't drink, and more concretely about why I am a web developer. I made it clear: I do the web, and I established my mantra: don't build websites: develop the web.

There's also a great deal of ridiculous stuff in there. For a week in 2003 I blogged about the sandwiches I ate for lunch out of a lack of ideas. I wrote about why I take such long shower. There is a LOT of gushing about various boys in my life, though probably my favorite was lusting after a random boy in an Apple commercial; 6 years later Jeremiah and I (and his husband) would meet in person. I hired him to my first startup and we've been friends for more than a decade now. We still chat every day.

I wrote about Trinidad a great deal; about how beautiful it is, about how its unique culture shaped me. I wrote wistfully about the idea of ever moving back there. At the time the real blocker was that homosexuality was illegal there, something they sued to fix in 2017 and won in 2018, to the surprise of everyone.

Sexuality has also been a frequent topic. I came out as gay long before my website existed, but I came out as bisexual in 2003 and when nobody noticed again in 2005. It's still true but these days I just call myself gay or queer because my bisexuality is at best theoretical. I wrote about why exposing children to homosexuality is good and healthy. I was originally in favor of civil unions, but within a year I had switched to wanting gay marriage instead, mostly because George W. Bush didn't think I was good enough to deserve it.

I very intermittently write fiction; there are a few I'm still fond of.

For the first 7 years of the blog I was in London or at Warwick for college. I planned to spend my whole life there; I was shopping for houses when suddenly I lost my job and unexpectedly moved to San Francisco which I loved, so much so that I stayed for 14 years and became an American citizen.

After moving to SF I started blogging a lot more about tech; at one point making semi-regular appearances on Hacker News, which had by this time eclipsed Slashdot. I wrote defending SQL and attacking ORMs as well as a very popular post giving a no-holds-barred review of AWS when it was still quite new to most people. I was very excited about the iPhone.

As my career matured I talked less about technologies specifically and more about the industry, including hiring diversely, tech's atrocious approach to giving interviews. I've made a great deal of predictions about technology, nearly all of them wrong, though I think I'll still be right about how commoditization is a constant force in tech, producing a new breed of non-coding software developers. I also predicted a full 10 years ago the massive demand for data people we're seeing now, though I forgot I did that. (I also sharply criticized Instagram, which got me uninvited to several parties)

These days most of my writing is on Twitter and about history, about which I've occasionally made whole stand-alone websites about American presidents or San Francisco street names. I'll probably make another about European historical figures of the last 2500 years when I finish reading them all.

It's been a great 20 years. As I said myself, 15 years apart, in the posts I just linked: my mission is to create. And I am a web developer. I was right.