AN OFFLINE conversation with Justin Mason prompts me to cobble together a listing of those who have come before in the realm of Irish blogging. When someone asks me for the people I first read before I started blogging, I finger New York point man Dave Winer. He formulated RSS and deserves our thanks. At the time I was reading his original yammerings about the direction that RSS should take, he was firing salvoes at Irish web developer Alis Marsden (not a blogger) and Sean McGrath (long-time blogger) in Ireland. I was listening to Winer-sniping in the back of the #69 bus from Dublin's Citywest, listening to Netscape coders taking turns with Winer-bashing. That was in 1998-1999, around the time of Donncha O Caoimh's first archived items. Most of Ireland's tech community was well-served by mailing lists and listserv admins who ran social networks elegantly (i.e., without graphics or heavy data loads). I didn't blog back then because the stuff I posted several times a week had no RSS feeds. You need to have feeds to have a blog. I bolted on my first feeds as part of a Y2K promotion strategy in late 1999. It's a dead blog now, just like the
criminals company that sponsored it.
Around the turn of the century, I stumbled into the social network maintained by Tom Cosgrave. He had the first Irish blogging aggregator (dead link) but it wound up about a year ago and many of the old heads went separate ways. Several very active college students blogged their way through academic years with me reading and commenting along--in between the pints after Trinity Netsoc meetings. Most of these blogs (or journals or group pages) were frequently updated but not necessarily technical. Their existence proved that you didn't have to be a techie to connect through an online blog.
Maura McHugh and then Justin Mason surfaced on my bookmark list way before 9/11. Justin has returned to Ireland. Maura has parked her legacy blog. Gavin Sheridan pulled himself out of Radio Userland and ultimately into Wordpress, starting in late 2001, as I recall. That's about the time of Karlin's first forays too. Tom Murphy poked his head around the firewall at Cape Clear with his PR blog in early 2002. Vicky Lee (the IBC with the country's best vantage point to the fastest-growing section of the international blogging scene) and Diego Doval (formerly a Trinity PhD student now in California) both software developers, along with super cameraman John Smyth appeared in late 2002. I liked the content of their blogs because they were part personal, part technical, part culture.
It's fair to say that many of those most active as social networkers in Ireland today do not know about this lineage. It seems that whenever the topic of "who came before" arises, the conversation steers itself down paths of "geek vs creative" or some other false dichotomy. It appears that many of the most talkative Irish bloggers reward those closest to their conversations with linkbacks, nominations and kudos--that could explain why all of the elders of Irish blogging have failed to win any Irish awards for blogging. Not that they need recognition--doing anything for more than two business cycles generally means it's self-sustaining.
I think it'simportant to acknowledge those who have come before instead of scraping archives to prove who was standing first. In 2006, the Irish blogging community has established strong social nodes around geographic, topical, and age segments. Many new to blogging aren't aware that more than 1200 Irish blogs are chattering out in the same internet space. They're unaware that it's much easier to write online and establish a connection with someone who thinks the same way. They don't appreciate the technology that makes this so easy and how this technology enrichens lives. Perhaps that is the ultimate compliment--the technology is made subservient to blogging, totally subordinated to the simple event of writing online.
I want to lace together several third level papers that document where social networking stands in Ireland. I would like to integrate the comments that extend from this post and its trackbacks. Both need some cross-referencing to give us some factual grounding. It's possible that my version of events omits something important. Comments welcomed.
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