Monday, July 16, 2007

Blogging history, citizen journalism, and a weekend roundup

Who was the first blogger? After all these years, bloggers still can't agree on who started it all. Was it Dave Winer? Jorn Barger? Or even Marc Andreessen or Tim Berners-Lee?

This most recent discussion started with this Wall St. Journal article, Happy Blogiversary.
Writer Tunku Varadajan seems to lean to Barger, who probably did come up with the 'Weblog' name, but certainly wasn't the first. Winer celebrated his 10th anniversary this spring, and doesn't claim to be the first (but has hinted at it).

Duncan Riley claims blogging started much earlier than 10 years ago, but doesn't claim a pioneer.

Salon's Scott Rosenberg goes over the history, and claims "there is no 'first blogger'". But if you were to mention names, he says, you can't ignore Berners-Lee's page at CERN, the first Website and, since it was a list of links, arguably the first blog. Or maybe it was Netscape founder Andreessen, who started a 'What's New?' list at NCSA in 1993. And then there was Justin Hall, whose site was called just ''.....

At any rate, the Journal story's claim that Barger was the first blogger seems to be thoroughly debunked. It's worth a read, though, for the blogger and celebrity comments on blogging. Especially Tom Wolfe's:
Forty years ago, (Marshall McLuhan) said that modern communications technology would turn the young into tribal primitives who pay attention not to objective "news" reports but only to what the drums say, i.e., rumors.
And there you have blogs. The universe of blogs is a universe of rumors, and the tribe likes it that way.

Lots of discussion, too, about the future of local citizen journalism since is closing and Assignment Zero losing steam done (Wired article, Did Assignment Zero Fail? and discussion on Jay Rosen's blog).

Dan Gillmor has a great post wrapping up the state of citizen journalism today: Citizen Media: A Progress Report. More links on Mindy McAdams' Teaching Online Journalism blog.

And, on a lighter note, fascinating discussion in Boing Boing over which Sesame Street sketches or characters scared you as a kid.....

Weekend roundup:

I didn't collect many more links last week but a few are interesting:

  • Why Terrorism Doesn't Work from MIT Press, research report from Kennedy School.
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: native plant database browse plants by type or search by state.

    Public Records:
  • Skipease Blog, news on public records and people searches.
  • Skipease Firefox add-on for people and public records searches, recommended by a NewsLib poster. Looks good except for the extra room the toolbar takes up.
  •, another new online public records guide by state and county. I checked a couple local counties and the links went only to the main county page or non-existent page. This was linked in a comment on my latest posting on public records sites.

  • SEC: State sponsors of terrorism; links to filings from companies doing business in Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and North Korea.

  • Dollars, Not Sense: Government Contracting Under the Bush Administration, report from House Oversight Committee, including a searchable database of problem contracts. "Between 2000 and 2005, procurement spending increased by over $175 billion dollars, making federal contracts the fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending."

  • All Nations Expatriates & Travelers Telephone Search Engine from expat site, choose country you're calling from and get country codes and links to phone directories, other info, by country. (via Depth Reporting.)

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    • Hi Liz,

      as someone very much involved with Assignment Zero--no, it didn't "lose steam." perhaps the idea of "crowdsourcing" the way Surowiecki imagined it might be, but not AZ. We actually ended with 80 Q&As and 7 full features.

      The biggest difficulty was participation and community building--something many journalists (and businesspeople) don't quite understand. I blogged about it on my can find it thru my profile.

      By Blogger Tish Grier, at 11:56 PM  

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