Dave Totten's personal voyage to the land of IT Fluency, and other Digital Governance issues.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fluency Milestone #9: Blogging

Givin our class discussions of blogging as a way to bring about a Habermassian deliberative democracy revolution, etc, I thought I should blog about how much I've actually learned about blogging.

I had one of the first blogs on the Internet!

In 1998, I took my copy of Front Page and used it to create a proto-blog (the theme was a seashore, with little crabs and starfish for bullet-points-- so dorky!) about Alaska news. My counter almost never moved. I was a working journalist at the time, but it was strange how I felt immediately able to register my opinions on this blog, when I could not on the radio. There was no Blogger, no community, certainly no Google (just, AltaVista, DEC's amazing search engine they designed to run on their blazing-fast Alpha PCs... until they were bought and dismantled).

The high point of my early blogging was the day I got an angry e-mail from a Green Party politico complaining that I had referred to him (and others) as "fringe candidates." He must have been ego surfing (searching for his own name) or something. At the time, he had just dropped out of the race for governor after winning the primary. He had only run because nobody else would and the party was about to lose it's official recognition. After the primary, he convinced another Green activist to run in his place (thus making a joke of the entire concept of a "primary") and he dropped out to finish building his house. Other candidates were equally wacked-out (is there a Wikipedia article on Theressa Obermeyer yet, Piotr?). Rather than appologize, I took a shot at him for his house building. A couple months later, I got sick of updating something nobody read and killed it.

A couple years later, a friend of mine, Dave Harbour, a well-connected oil-and-gas insider, set up the first useful blog I'd seen. He was trying to generate interest in building a natural gas pipeline to bring Alaska's North Slope gas resources to market. He created something like Drudge-for-gas. He dilligently collected news reports from around the world about anything at all connected to North Slope Gas. He also had fact sheets and phone list resources for backers of the idea to use. The idea eventually built up steam (due to skyrocketting gas prices) until at last the Governor, Legislature and the oil companies had agreed to build a gas project. Nobody would suggest that Dave's blog made the project happen, but I think he did succeed in keeping the idea alive in people's minds, and it's more than a coincidence that the people who did get to work on the pipeline were all readers of his blog. The project is hitting some bad snarls right now, and it's not certain it will still happen. Dave gave up his blog in 2003 when he was appointed to the state regulatory board that oversees utilities (including both the Internet and gas pipelines!)

Which brings me to this modern age. I had given up blogging completely until this class. It struck me as vain and boring ("...and then I got my hair cut. It's so cute now!") I'm still not completely convinced that anybody would actually read anything I would post here. But my opinion has changed somewhat.

First, there's Blogger. This site makes it much easier to deal with the blogs. If I'd had these tools in 1998, I probably would have kept blogging even past the election (one of the most extraordinary in US history). The fact that everyone now uses Google to search and find increases the liklihood of someone actually finding my page, unlike in the old days when people didn't even know how to search. And, in the context of a class, I now see that this is the perfect method for interacting with classmates about class ideas and lessons.

So, IT Fluency? Yes. Here's the proof: in future classes, I am going to blog my assignments and tell my instructors (and classmates) that they can find them online.


Blogger Piotr Konieczny said...

Yes :)

9:55 PM


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