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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Blog evolution

Soccer Dad reminisces about his early on-line experiences that culminated (so far) with blogging. As a geek, I can't resist the temptation to add my own on-line history.

I was on Usenet as early as 1985. I mostly posted in net.religion.jewish which soon became soc.culture.jewish but occasionally in other places. I mostly stayed away from politics in those days and stuck with religious arguments. It was a simpler time, when people all used their real names....

Only a couple of years later did I discover BBSs. I did a fair amount of time with KesherNet but not for conversations as much as for downloads.

Then I got a Compuserve account. In those days, each network was pretty much independent and only were they just starting to intercommunicate via email - there were gateway systems between different types of networks. Since I was on KesherNet, Compuserve and Usenet, I would forward divrei Torah between different networks.

I seem to remember on Compuserve getting into some political discussions. I also fought against Holocaust deniers who started posting all over Usenet.

In addition, I was an early subscriber to probably the most famous Jewish religious mailing list, mail.jewish, and a very small contributor to its original FAQ. I mostly lurked on there, only posting for specific technical questions that sometimes came up.

I was on the Web around 1994 when Mosaic was the only graphical browser out there, and when protocols like gopher and archie were at least as popular as http. In those days there was very little Jewish content on the Web and no one really had any idea of how it would evolve. One of the earliest Jewish mega-websites was Shamash, which still exists at http://www.shamash.org (at the time it was hosted at nysernet.org.)

The web did grow but I really didn't get too involved in on-line discussiions until one day, probably around 2002, when I stumbled onto Yahoo news message boards. An amazing waste of time, the MBs are one of the last refuges for terrorist-supporters and Nazis to speak freely on a major news site (most other sites simply closed down their message boards after the flame wars began, and many moderate their comments and/or require valid email addresses.)

I spent a few years there, making cyber-friends and seeing the same tired arguments over and over again. I got rather sick of spending time crafting a good post only to see it scroll off in a few minutes from the busier boards.

I started saving some of my posts, and then created a very short-lived Geocities site to keep them around. It was then I discovered blogging and how easy it was to set up Blogger, so here I am, for about 18 months now. My focus has changed a bit since I started here and I am sure it will continue to change in the coming months. I do appreciate everyone who reads this, though. It may be a little egotistical but without an audience there is really no incentive for me to write or repost interesting things I've seen.