Archeology of Personal and Collective Web Blogs (2005-2020)

Blogging is one of the media practices and socio-technical systems that has made the world wide web what it is today. As a practice it has democratized writing, editing, and publishing at a scale that can be compared to the printed press. As a system, it has created a powerful infrastructure for creating, consuming, and distributing content in a networked way that has low barriers of entry and, in most of the cases, it can be used for free. According to a recent report (2020) there are more than 500 million blogs on the World Wide Web. That means that almost a third of of all sites on the Web (estimate of 1.7 billion websites in 2020) are blogs.

Although its relevance is not the same it had back in the 1990s and 2000s given the evolution of social media — particularly the rise of social networking sites and platforms, blogging still thrives today as a river of ideas and content in the digital ecosystem. Blogging is digital discourse in one of its more essential forms.

Keeping a web blog, however, is not easy. Despite having computer and Internet technologies that make the process of writing, editing and publishing straightforward, maintaining a blog, cultivating the habit of posting entries, and generating content online are demanding tasks. Blogging is a media practice that requires lots of labor, persistence, and affect. Evoking the infamous utterance of Truman Capote, we could say that the art of blogging is “a gift and a whip.” In order to master it, one needs lots of practice and commitment, and of course, a blogger needs time, motivation and access to technology and knowledge.

Since the appearance of the first blogging platforms in 1994, thousand of blogs have been created using either self-hosted blog software or blog platforms. However, not all of the blogs remain active and are visible. Most of them are forgotten, lost, buried in servers’ hard drives and data centers. Many of them have never been read for more than a dozen of persons. Perhaps because it is “a gift and whip” that is easy to pick up, blogging can also be painlessly abandoned.

“Where do bloggers blog? Platform transitions within the historical Dutch blogosphere” by Esther Weltevrede and Anne Helmond

I have certainly stranded several blogs. Before I started the current version VvvaLog you are reading (it is the second iteration), I started many web-logs that did not last more than a year. Back in the 2000s, when the platform Blogger was popular around the world, I created several blogs from my home in Colombia. Recently I rediscovered those sites, unearthed them, while trying to find an entry about a Bogotanian Bloomsday I wrote in 2008 as a homage to Joyce’s Ulysses. Although I could not find that post, I found several of my idled blogs. As a reference, and with the purpose of archiving them, I would share links to some of them below :

Many of those Blogger sites functioned as experiments on publishing, creative writing, note-taking, and multimodal composition. They were key spaces for learning about hyperlinking and multimodal layout. I think they were early sandboxes for learning and playing digital discourse. During my search I re-discovered the transmedia project San Pelayo about the legendary Porro Music Festival in San Pelayo, Cordoba. I recommend checking out the videos and photographs that are posted on this blog to learn more about this fantastic Colombian Caribbean folk festivity of music and dance.

Unfortunately, one of the blogs I kept from 2007 to 2009 (the first version of vVvAlog) has disappeared from the web. It was the first blog I hosted my self, running the wordpress software on a server space I had at MIT. Although some traces of that first version of vVvAlog are available on the wayback machine, many of them are lost. I might have a back up of the texts and files of that blog somewhere in a hard drive. Once I find them I would love to re-publish the entries. As a matter of fact, that vVvAlog and its current iteration have lasted for more than a decade and are a demonstration of my commitment to blogging. I am grateful I have been able to experiment, explore, and learn while doing this media practice for several years.

Although during my search of the Bogotanian Bloomsday post I did not check the Tumblr platform, I would include in this entry, as a reference, some links to the blogs I have created on the servers of that company since 2007. Some of them are buried. Others are quite alive. For the undergrad classes I teach at Javeriana University I have been using Tumblr for blogging collectively with my students. I found it quite useful for building learning communities. Below are some examples of some of the collective blogs (in Tumblr) I have helped to build:

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