January 21, 2010
10 Years of Blogging

Today marks the 10 anniversary of the formal start of this weblog, the venerable Cruftbox.

In internet time, that's an eternity. While I'm not considered one of the truly early bloggers, I've been at this quite a while.

I registered my first domain back in 1997 and promptly posted a story about making a cup of coffee on August 31st. I had posted about my daughter being born even earlier, on July 19th. While some might claim that as the start of my blogging, I consider it when I started using a content management system of some kind.

My inspiration for Cruftbox was a site called Lum the Mad, a weblog about the game Ultima Online. Scott "Lum" Jennings still blogs about gaming today at brokentoys.org. My initial start was a rudimentary blogging app called NewsPro. Blogger was less than 6 months old, MovableType didn't even exist in those days, and owning your own domain was not for casual enthusiasts. Thanks to Ben & Mena Trott for making MovableType. Without it, I probably would have never kept on blogging.

My first post was January 21st, 2000, simply about starting the site. In the beginning, I mainly posted about video games and linked to interesting stuff I saw on the web. As time went on, I started to create more real content on the site.

To this day, the most popular page on Cruftbox remains How to make a Smoker from a Trash Can, posted in October of 2003. Even now, 50-100 people a day read this page. The more real content I made, the more visitors I had arrive. Once I added Google ads, I started making $100-150 a month and still do today.

Blogging led me to start attending SxSW Interactive and helped me meet a ton of great people all over the world. I have found blogging to be a rewarding experience, well worth my time and the headache. I have refrained from trying to turn my site into anything other than a window into my life.

I never believed in the "Bloggers will pwn the world!!!1!!" meme that still occasionally rebounds around the net. It's not blogging that changes the world, it's hard work that changes the world. Blogs are a great way to surface hard work, making it easy to publicly publish what you've been working on, but crap on a weblog is still just crap.

Over the years, I've been Slashdotted, Farked, Boinged, Dugg, and even hacked. To be honest, it feels good to get the attention. I'd much rather get many people reading my site than a bunch of hits to the Google ads.

Today, I mainly post about my experiments in food or science. I don't post as frequently, since I feel a lot of the personal stuff fits better into Facebook or Twitter. Who knows what I'll be writing about in a few years.

So what words of wisdom do I have after 10 years of blogging?

Not a lot really. Just a few things that are probably obvious to a lot of people, but I'll write them down anyways.

1) Blogging adds content to the internet, where as social networks add noise. A weblog tends to be a more permanent record of information that is searchable and retrievable over time. People still visit my post about loading XP on a SATA drive from 2004 regularly, because it's usefully content that they can find easily. Twitter and Facebook are fun, but their content is ephemeral, melting into the net like snowflakes in the sun. Beautiful for a brief moment and then gone.

2) Only write things on your weblog that you are comfortable your co-workers, friends, family, and strangers knowing. If you have private thoughts, keep them private.

3) Most of the social media experts are full of crap. Anyone who claims to know where the internet is heading or how 'you should establish a relationship with your reader' is simply selling something. The internet is wild and unpredictable. Your best bet is to simply sit back, do what you find interesting, ignore what bores you, and enjoy the ride.

The biggest thanks I have go to my wife, Michele, who has put up with my blogging of our lives, eaten food cooked in trash cans, let her kitchen be used as a lab, helped me count Halloween costumes, and watched me eat copious amounts of junk food in the name of science. Thank you sweet pea!

Lastly, thank YOU for reading. If not for the comments and emails over the years, I wouldn't still be doing this. Let's see what the next ten years brings, I have no idea what it will be, but it will be wonderful.

And yes, I know I need to redesign the site. ;)

Posted by michael at January 21, 2010 08:00 AM