I REMEMBER BLOGGING ABOUT surgical masks on September 23, 2001 but at the time I didn't think my writing about the masks would start my adventure in blogging.
The masks were part of a kit given to the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity on the upper east side of Manhattan. Several of the Trinitarian nuns had stood on the top of their convent and watched the twin towers fall. My aunt was one of them. The fire department gave the convent several dozen surgical masks to ward off the ill effects of the dust in the air from the collapse of the World Trade Center. Ten years later, the masks are still in the convent. I've a local copy of that blog post and I'm going to replant it on Inside View because my first post deserves a relook--along with several of the high points of my adventure in blogging.
When I got started in 2001, I did a lot more reading than writing. I read how blogging was supposed to work, taking my cue from Dave Winer's musings on his blog alongside well-divided commentary on RSS and XML discussion forums. I traded a lot of ideas with Tim Kirby. Back then, the articulate opinions of Alis Marsden were just around the corner from where I had first set up Topgold, a blog that used Radio Userland's software. Using the software meant I could write my blog on my laptop and then upload my posts when I got near a modem. I had a 56k US Robotics modem back then and it was the bomb. I wrote a lot of stuff while next to a peat fire at Central Percs in Temple Bar.
I followed fewer than 20 individual bloggers (people like Dan Gillmor, JD Lasica and Doc Searls) but read blog items from the New York Times, Slashdot, and Boing Boing.
In 2002, I was diving in and out of Live Journal communities, playing with several Pyra Labs blogs, my own implementation of some Movable Type scripts and spending more and more time with Radio Userland, Winer's creation. The Radio Userland community included John Robb, Karlin Lillington, Gavin Sheridan and Robert Scoble. Back then, Gavin Sheridan generated more blog posts than Robert Scoble. Posts were often simple permalinked paragraphs without pictures--except in the case of exceptional creatives like Robyn O'Rourke Pollman and essayists like Dervala Hanley. My most-visited post from 2002 concerned an incident at Dublin Airport. Some of the most amazing blogs from the new millennium flowed from an online community supported by Tom Cosgrave, including the ebullient Helena Kim. Her blog at www.targum.net/fresh/ was never archived by the Wayback Machine. Like many college graduates who flush away their Facebook profiles when interviewing for jobs, Helena's blog disappeared from view too.
In 2003, I followed James Corbett and Euan Semple onto Typepad servers and that's where I remain today. Not knowing how dependable things would be, I spread my time between Radio Userland, Movable Type scripts hanging on UnderwayInIreland and Blogger. I need to pull all those together into one online space because the posts have comments from interesting creatives like John Smyth. I used my touchscreen (stylus-driven) IBM Transnote to join LinkedIn in 2003 and I started buying books because I met authors like Howard Rheingold online.
In 2004, I needed an ISDN line at home and craved GPRS speeds for my Nokia 9210i as I blogged more than half of my items directly from my Nokia phone. I watched as Candygirl made her last post. I read creative work by Chris Gulker, Adam Curry and Caterina Fake in 2004, the same year I stumbled upon Flickr. I started doing more than writing for the web in 2004. I was snapping shots that got attention and making podcasts while listening to the Daily Source Code. I think I spent more time on Boards.ie than I did reading clips from blogs.
By 2005 I discovered two other guys were blogging in Kilkenny: Ken McGuire and Keith Bohanna. I had just tuned into the audio side of For Immediate Release, traded tech notes with David Stewart, started my Delicious collection with a Media Center bookmark and uploaded my most popular Flickr photo (more than 134,000 views to date). I enhanced my moblogging technique so I was able to upload an image with my text while using my Nokia 9500 on the road. There was no app for Facebook, a new website I uncovered while playing around with my edu address.
In 2006, I met Damien Mulley, organiser of the Irish Blog Awards and articulate spokesman for Ireland Offline. I was riding high on page impressions back then, notching up around 2000 daily page views and enjoying more than $100 monthly revenue from Google Adsense. All the numbers started rolling downwards in late 2006, to a current page count of no more than 500 per day. I used my Sony Ericsson P910i phone to read webfeeds while out walking our dog and pulled dozens of podcasts onto that phone, including a favourite from WBEZ in Chicago, This American Life. I carried all my mobile gear in a durable Bihn Bag, something I continue using today.
2007 marked several big events for me, including an Irish civil marriage in a hotel, our first child, an Irish Blog Award, and my first use of a portable sat nav in our car. I also met Elana and Brendan Kehoe, kind souls who proved the best bloggers don't have the loudest voices. Like many other people, I started tweeting in 2007 and that has been one of the biggest reasons my blogging has dropped off dramatically.
In 2008 my attention turned to cloud services like Flickr, Delicious, Dropbox, and Last.fm. I liked getting podcasts directly onto my Nokia E90 instead of cabling them onto my iPod through iTunes. I continued learning while listening to podcasts like For Immediate Release, Marketing Over Coffee, This Week in Tech and Inside Home Recording while making time for Limerick OpenCoffee every month. I'm still amazed by the stories shared by Patrick and John Collison at OpenCoffee. I blogged thoughts gleaned while attending industry events and attracted new friends like John Tierney who would connect with me years after commenting on my blog. A very clever dongle from O2 started delivering 3G service to my laptop while on the road.
In 2009, I found Qik could complement my Sunday newsrounds by making easy work of my newspaper commentary. I discovered Audioboo, one of my favourite iOS applications. I started using Pinboard as a way to document my lifestream. I also discovered I could sync favourite places on the maps of my phone, Ovi Maps, and Google Maps as well as combining all my favourites into textable clusters of Pinpoints. This takes the concept of Foursquare lists to a whole different level.
2010 brought me into Android via the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 alongside the Nokia E7 and the iPod Touch. I'd claim usage of an iPad but that tablet stays in the hands of our four-year-old most of the time. I started getting much more accomplished because I started following a system that synchronised my working documents to Evernote over the air onto all of the mobile devices I use. This still feels magical to me. Online Meeting Rooms also feels magical when I use it without any cables. I've conducted video conferences with people across different time zones, watching them on my Dell laptop while in an Irish field, using my O2 3G Hotshot.
It's now 2011 and I think I will continue blogging for at least another 15 years. I may call time on writing my blog in 2026 because I hope to be writing more for Kindle Singles than for my blog. I hope to reacqaint myself with Dragon Naturally Speaking so I can convert thousands of handwritten pages that I have in our attic into some form of action character, perhaps using tools like Storyful. I think it's important to write, to edit and to curate. Those are skills I teach as a creative multimedia lecturer and ones that I hope come through in the work I do online.
If you have another idea for me, why not tell me in a comment?