I have been blogging since before it was called blogging. I’ve been blogging before blogs.
For me it started on OpenDiary.com. I have read that it was the first web log, but I’m sure many sites claim that title. I know Blogger wasn’t around yet and Geocities (another tragic love story) was in its prime. Which means I’ve been building websites as long as I’ve been blogging.
So much has changed.
We had followers on Open Diary. Usually people you knew well, whether it was “IRL” (in real life) or a friend known only through the interwebs. Sometimes those were the people who knew you best, because you could bare your soul to a person without making eye contact. So, yes, we all had small followings. But no pictures, at first.
I remember when OD started allowing its users to do things – crazy things, unimaginable things at the time. Italicize the font. That’s where it started. Bold it too. Underlines? No problem. Just throw a “u” in some carroty brackets and a “/u” behind it and you are on your way to pro-style formatting.
Later, we started realizing we could change text colors, background colors, add scrolling marquee text… and that’s where it happened. That’s where I saw my first blogging super star. She was famous, to us, that nameless (other than HTML_Helper) woman (I think) who told us how to make a PICTURE the BACKGROUND of a POST. WHAT??? I worshiped her. I appreciated her. I read every letter she wrote.
She was training us. We knew how to write, and we were all developing that skill. She taught us to design our words, our sites, our messages. I wonder what happened to you, HTML_Helper – are you still ahead of the game? Are you still blogging about blogging, like I’m doing now?
Eventually I lost interest in Open Diary as other platforms emerged. It remained close to my heart and not forgotten, a memoir of young teenage angst and the meaningless garbage that I thought the world centered around at the time. Others left, too and the site became a ghost town. It tried desperately to create revenue, and it failed every attempt. I’d go back and laugh at my younger self from time to time, amused at how dramatic I could be at the most trivial happenings, comparing the heartache of a 13 girl in a deteriorating internet “relationship” to the strife felt by Edgar Allen Poe when his wife died. My pen name was Annabel Lee.
I checked back in a couple weeks ago and was astonished to find it completely gone. Years. Years of writing, of pouring my soul into the virtual pages of my open diary. Gone. Erased forever. Open Diary has become an open grave, for which I mourn. Yet it gave me something valuable that I will never forget – the ability to do this – to sit down and type, without knowing who will stumble across it later, without caring, really. Just to write. And while most of my posts are aimed to be useful to the users of today’s technology, this one is but a tribute, a lament to my lost love, my first love, my dear Open Diary. Thank you for everything.