July 11, 2000
Even though I had heard about blogs for a while, the manifold impositions of work and what passes for life have kept me from actually investigating then. ‘Til now, anyway. An article on Webreview discussed them, and extolled their virtues as being the salvation of an overly commercialized Internet. (And those who know me know how easy it is to get me wound up on that particular topic. I am sure most of my friends are truly sick of hearing me say “Why, I remember when you would get flamed for even suggesting that someone be allowed to sell shit on the web!” But I digress…)
Anyway, this is a first post, part of an ongoing effort to get some more use out of this domain of mine. And maybe have some fun, too. Thanks for playing.
This will be my last post on Hidden City using Blogger.
Blogger was originally a side-project of the team at now-defunct Pyra Labs. They created it for internal use, as a way to share interesting items they found around the web with the other team members. One of them thought it could have use in the outside world, so they made it available to the rest of us while they kept working on their real products. It was rocky at times; Blogger was running on an old computer under someone’s desk, and needed periodic kicking as the user base grew. At a few points they asked the users to donate money to buy a real server. I sent them $25 and got a nice note back from Ev (Evan Williams, one of the founders of Pyra), along with a few Blogger stickers like that pictured here.
In those dim mists of time, using Blogger was a simple proposition:
- You logged in.
- You typed in the box.
- You clicked Publish.
- Your words appeared on your site.
This was pretty much miraculous: No more need to go to your home computer, manually edit your HTML to add new content, and then use another program to put the updated file on your server. Just click, type, click, done. It wasn’t the first program to offer this kind of functionality, but it was the first (as far as I know) to let you do it with your own domain. That was pretty amazing, in its day.
Of course, back then there were no permalinks. There were no comments built in. There wasn’t a BlogSpot. You couldn’t even give your posts a title! There was just this simple web application updating the HTML for you and uploading it to your site. It beat the hell out of having to do it all manually.
So for ten years I used Blogger, in spite of the derision of the web-savvy. “Blogger’s for kids,” I’ve been told. “You can’t be taken seriously on Blogger.” This is actually kind of funny, since very few people even recognize Hidden City as using Blogger, but it is an understandable mistake. Over time Blogger has become synonymous with BlogSpot, Google’s free blog hosting service. Few people seem to know there was ever any other option.
As of May 1, 2010, that original option will be gone. Few people were using the very old school technology, so Google made the perfectly reasonable decision to shut it down. We were offered support in the migration to BlogSpot or a hybrid system â€” I’ll spare you the technical details â€” but I declined. Both of the options entrusted Hidden City’s existence to the sole discretion of Google, and while I generally trust them, the site means too much to me to give up all control.
So we come to the end. We had a good run, Blogger. I learned quite a bit â€” both technically and politically â€” from watching your struggles andÂ successes. Now, we’ve just grown apart. You’re focusing more on simplicity and people just establishing their on-line presence; I already have an established presence, and want to keep control of it. You’re a huge corporation answerable to stockholders; I’m an ordinary guy answerable to no one. You eat at the same table as the recording industry and the CIA; I eat alone at my desk. We just don’t have anything in common any longer.
I wish you the best, Blogger. Just don’t get so big you forget your roots as a side-project under someone’s desk, okay?
Post Script: I’m taking advantage of the unavoidable change of software to do a complete redesign: not a redecoration, but a major renovation. The walls are coming down, we’re adding a couple of rooms, and updating it to hold us for the foreseeable future. When we’re back you won’t even recognize the place.
To accomplish this things are going to shut down for a little while. As with any construction project there are inconveniences and problems. I’ve run into some technical hurdles with my web host that will take time to work through. Additionally there are ten years of stories to move from Blogger to WordPress, a rather daunting prospect. Most frustrating, however, is the breaking of all inbound links. Since Blogger and WordPress handle permalinks differently, there’s simply no way I have found to automatically redirect them. I’m not terribly happy about it, but it can’t be helped. Permalinks seem to be as much a lock-in as platform-specific DRM. I need time to work something out, but it will be done.
When it’s complete I’ll do my best to make certain everyone who is interested knows. If you’re a fan of Hidden City on Facebook you’ll be notified there; the same is true of the Twitter followers. If that social media crap leaves you cold, though, drop me a line via Hidden.City at Gmail and I’ll make sure you know.
Thanks for your continued support through the years.