More about online journals (2 of 2) -- 01/04/10

If you have just wandered in from Holidailies and wonder who's who, there's a brief introduction to various characters at the end of this entry...

This is the final part of the follow-up questions asked by the doctoral candidate who did that e-mail interview with me about the early days of online journals. (If you think of yourself as an online journaling pioneer and I've not mentioned you in this, please understand that I only discussed some writers whose sites I was reading back around 1995 thru 1998. This response was not the result of hours of recall of those days and an attempt to write an exhaustive list, but was just me sitting at my keyboard and responding to a question.) You can find a link to the Online Diary History Project on my index page.

3. Many journalers from the mid-90s are not writing anymore. Would you say that this world of journalers and diarists has disappeared (since, as you mentioned, blogs are different)? Why? How has it evolved from your perspective?

I agree that many appear to have disappeared but I don't know if that means that they have actually stopped writing. I suppose that some may have, but I think in many case it might be a case of taking a break and coming back with a different URL and/or Web name. Here are some of the writers I recall from back then:
  • Carolyn Burke – Carolyn's Diary – She was one of the very first people writing an online diary. I was reading her in 1995 when she started and continued to read her on-and-off for a year or two. I'm not sure if I lost interest in the details of her life or if numerous demands on my time forced me to restrict my online reading for a couple of years in the late nineties and her site did not make the cut. I do know that she continued to post until around 2002 and I believe her archives are available. I have no idea if she continues to have a live Web presence or not.
  • Steve Schalchin – Living in the Bonus Round – He began this in 1996 when he thought he only had a few months left to live (due to AIDS). I have never been a regular reader of his site, although I think he is a talented writer and musician and I loved his off-Broadway show The Big Voice (written and performed by him and his partner Jim Brochu) a couple of years ago. (And he is still alive and well.)
  • Doug Franklin – Nilknarf – Doug has also been writing his online journal since 1996 and he is still posting frequent entries (and he is about my age). I am more of an occasional reader than a daily reader but Doug is an thoughtful and entertaining writer. For some reason with his page my habit is to stop in at wide intervals and then read multiple entries to catch up.
  • Ophelia – Back in the mid-nineties she was (if I recall correctly) a college student living in Hawaii. + She created one of the first Web rings for people with online journals. She made a decision to drop her online journal sometime in the late nineties (I no longer recall her reasons) and I have no idea if she ever returned online or not.
  • Jennifer Wade. I began to read her when she had returned to college as a postgraduate to take some undergraduate courses she needed to get into graduate school with a different major than she had for her undergrad degree. At least, that is when I began to read her site (she had started with the Internet when she had been an undergraduate). She then moved to California where she was working on a doctorate in biology. She (along with Cara Leight-Thompson) set up the Online Diary History Project back around 2000 (or 2001?). She continued to write online in journal/diary format until a few years ago when she changed to an audio podcast format with two or three friends. She still maintains the podcast format, but only infrequently. (And for some reason I do not like podcasts so I stopped following after the format switch).
  • Cara Leight-Thompson – Canadian bookstore manager and aspiring author (well, that describes her as of a few years ago) who joined Jen Wade in setting up the Online Diary History Project. She stopped posting several years ago and (as far as I know) has not returned to keeping an online journal.
  • Sage – Her original site – Sage's Coffee Shakes – started in 1995 I believe -- was a combination of fiction, cartoons, essays, and an online journal. She also had an area for extensive comments (back when almost no sites had comments). Then she added an e-mail mailing list. She ended her site sometime in 1998 and people on the list kept it going. One of them set up space on a Web page for posting photographs submitted by group members. One posted pictures of her wedding. I posted pictures I had taken while visiting another member in England for his birthday party. (I was in England on a business trip.) We kept that list active for several years before it gradually faded away. (I even got together with a couple more people from that list while in Oslo on another business trip.) Sage and her husband Todd later started another online journal – one featuring entries by both of them – when they took to living in a yurt off in the woods. They both still have active sites today. His site is pretty much an online journal (or blog) and hers is more of a creative site with a lot of audio performance pieces.
  • Emily Weise – She began her online journal in 1996 as a high school student and continued it through high school and then through college. She went to college in Pittsburgh and we met for dinner a couple of times when I was there on business trips. She stayed on in Pittsburgh after graduation and kept up her journal for another year or two but then dropped it. I don't know if she has returned to the Web or not.
  • My daughter. She started with a page on Geocities back in 1996 when I did. She was 14 then (27 now). She dropped her Geocities page several years ago and replaced it with a blog on LiveJournal but has not updated that since February. Facebook seems to have taken the place of a blog for her.
  • Pamela Ribbon – Pamie – is still active… and even got a book out of her blog.
  • John Scalzi – Started his Whatever blog back in 1998 (yeah, okay, a new kid on the block *grin* but I liked reading him) for fun while he was working as a reasonably successful freelance writer (mostly business-related stuff for corporations) and occasional non-fiction author – He wrote a science fiction novel as a test for himself, decided to post it on his Web site, had an editor see it there and buy it and went on to win the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo award, and been on the New York Times best seller list. He still blogs pretty much daily.
  • Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor – This began in June of 1998, as an offshoot of his regular online column at BYTE magazine (his column in the print version began in 1980). It is, as he describes it, a "day book" – that is, a place to write down events and thoughts. It has always been split into a View section and a Mail section. Both are organized into weekly files, each one being updated (in blog fashion) whenever it seems appropriate, but with each new additon being added at the end (rather than at the top as blogs often do). A number of people have commented that his was the original blog because he was doing it before the term blog was coined. He talks about science (and science fiction, since he is a best-selling SF author) and computers and politics and history and just about anything else that strikes his fancy.

A brief introduction for those of you wandering in here from Holidailies for the first time: I'm just a middle-aged guy (but somehow I hit 66 on my last birthday) who lives in Rhode Island with my wife Nancy (a middle-school math teacher), daughter Gillian ("Jill" -- 27 yr old college student and baker), son Jeremy (24 yr old restaurant cook and part-time college student), and Tiger (senior citizen cat). Eldest child Adam lives in New York City with his wife Leah and our grandsons Sam and Milo. I'm a former programmer/systems analyst who got involved with software training and instructional design. For the past several years I have been working from home (you can't beat the short commute!) doing quality assurance and editing on course material for both classroom courses and Web-based training courses for a very big computer company. I've been writing this online journal since 1996.

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