10 years ago today on March 28, 2004, I started PurpleCar.net. Back in those post-LiveJournal (est. 1999) and pre-everybody Facebook (opened in 2006) days, choosing an anonymous username to blog under was like deciding on a face tattoo: You had to love it, as it was going to be your permanent identity. After weeks of wimping out, I settled on a co-worker’s nickname for me, based on my spouse’s surname which translates to “purple,” and my surname Cavalier which was a popular Chevy model at the time. I still have yet to decide on a tattoo.
After a decade online as PurpleCar, it really wouldn’t be such a bad idea to etch the alias across my forehead. I’m now synonymous with my username. That’s what blogging 10 years ago did. It inked you in the Internet’s collective memory as your site. You were your site and your site was you.
Things have definitely changed over the last decade. Online journaling is no longer its own culture. Paid content, automatic curation, scheduled tweets, etc., all blur the lines of what “blogging” is. Back in 2004 we had something called a blogroll where you listed all of your friends’ sites and they in turn listed yours. Comments were currency. Banter was the Bitcoin of the blogosphere. Strong opinions and quirky personalities were the lampposts in the dark unmapped territory of the ‘net. We had our communities, however small. There’d be trolls, of course, past the borders of those safe AOL playgrounds and early Google searches, but back then the wicked didn’t travel in groups. One troll was nothing compared to the waves of wretchedness that can be immediately visited upon the most unsuspecting and undeserving teen today. Those waves have drowned out many a voice, and admittedly, have watered down my own. In 2007, I deleted all of my personal journaling posts and changed the theme of my blog to a staid and (relatively) safe subject, The Psychology of Information Technology. I write slightly sarcastic but informative articles about memes, phishing attempts, social media etiquette. I fear too much for my family if I start sailing off again to those soapbox islands of the World Wide Web.
Now in the age of real names, a new blogger doesn’t have to dive into the dangerous waters of voiced opinions and worry about being labeled. In fact, a new blogger isn’t really a blogger at all; She’s a curator. She posts not to a site of her own but to varied social media outlets, spreading her sanguine likes and dislikes wide over the wires of the Web. According to early blogging idol Jason Kottke, the blog as we knew it is dead: “Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD.”
To be sure, a blog isn’t a casual undertaking. Each and every word is indexed, but it may take up to 18 months for a post to gain some search-engine traction. A blogger needs to build a presence on Twitter, Facebook and G+ (at the minimum) to point some readers back to their work. The going advice, still, is to blog at least once a day.
I don’t follow any of the rules, of course. I keep blogging because in this world of Nigerian Lottery scams, PayPal phishing and parental panic, it keeps me sane. PurpleCar is my ink. It is the one tattoo I can live with.
Special thanks to my early blogrolled pal, Larry Thorson of Messenger Puppet, who brought my anniversary to my attention this week. Larry started blogging on the same platform at the same host, blogharbor (now PressHarbor.com LOVE YOU GUYS!), about a month before I did. Happy 10 years to Messenger Puppet and here’s to 10 more, old friend. 🙂
Like my banner, logo, and color design? Go see my talented designer, Rick Wolff. Thanks, Rick!