Old dog, new tricks

Old dog, new tricks

: Ev just noted the fifth birthday of Blogger. Little did he know then…. I knew less….

Ev et al et Blogger changed media and politics. Changed my career. Changed my damned life. But at first, I couldn’t figure out what the hell it was.

It wasn’t very long at all after that launch when I met Nick Denton because I’d read about this amazing thing he and chums had started called Moreover, which took headlines from all over the world and turned them into categorized feeds of the latest news. We had to invest. In those days, people went running after new companies to throw money at them (luckily, I didn’t catch many but we did catch Moreover). And so I met Denton.

Nick, with his mumble-smart accent and practiced Brit cool, confused me about the business model for Moreover (I’m less confused now, or better be, since I’m on the board) and then said he had to show me something new. He and I used to compare great new things we’d found online. That ended years ago.

We huddled over my laptop connected to a dial-up line in our attorneys’ office as he showed me Blogger at the rate of speed at which my son operates when he shows his grandparents things on computers and completely befuddles them:

See here, there’s a story I like, I can hit this button and it will bring up this box and it has a link in it and I say this and then I hit this button and then I go to this page and, look, it’s online!

Nick stared at me, awaiting my amazement — rather the way I suspect Albert Einstein looked at his wife when he discovered relativity and she said, “That’s nice, dear.” I nodded politely.

I didn’t get it for sometime — a few months. I did get it in time to follow Nick’s advice and get my employer to invest in Pyra/Blogger (which is now a nanoshare of Google, thank you very much). I did get it once I started reading what people did with this strange new tool. I started reading blogs.

And life changed. Oh, I’d long been a pop-culture populist. As a TV critic and as a reporter, I had long blathered in defense of the taste and intelligence of the people. But now I didn’t need to speak for the people. Thanks to Blogger, the people spoke for themselves. And I loved listening.

As many of you know, I didn’t start this blog until after Sept. 11. And as soon as I did, some of the great blogging pioneeers I’d been reading — namely Welch and Layne — started linking to be and I saw that this was not about content, this was about conversation.

Finally, long after Blogger was born and I first saw it, I started getting it. Or to put it in the obnoxious argot of our age: I grokked blogs.

And the rest is… well, a helluva lot of blather about the wonders of citizens’ media and how it is changing the world, not to mention a helluva lot of blather right here on these pages, not to mention countless links and comments and conversations back and forth.

Did Blogger change the world five years ago? I think so, but that will stand open for debate for sometime yet. I do know it changed me.