For a variety of reasons, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about blogging as an act, my love of it, my frustration with it, my history with it. In that spirit, today my brain wandered a bit, trying to reconstruct how exactly I came to blogging, what my first post was, and what the impetus was behind this amazing relationship I’ve had with it. I’d thrown some time at this before, searching through my Blogger archives, the Wayback machine, trying to find the very first words I blogged, but with no success. But today, I had one of those “doh” moments, realized it had been there right in front of my face all along, and finally found it.

So, just so I get the chronology down, I hope you’ll indulge me in a little personal blogging history. (Or not, of course…) Piecing it together now, I find hugely interesting the process I worked through in my own practice with all of this.

So, yeah, June 11, 2001 it starts. Taken out of context, those first words give this whole story a more romantic (if it could be that) feel than it deserves. It turns out the first blog I created was in the “Nerdy Books Journal” which I started during the year I took off from school to help Wendy launch her books. I kept work notes and links as we tried to market and make connections. As it turned out, when I went back to school that fall, the blog pretty much died.

Exactly a month later I started the School Stuff blog which was basically just a personal link/notes blog that I kept up for about six months. Then, on October 23, 2001, I started my first class blog for my Beginning Journalism kids:

Welcome to the journalism blog!

I’ve set this up as a place where you can come if you need to find information about class, about journalism, and about the world. I’ll be posting homework information here regularly; you can find it at the top of the left hand column. I’ll also be posting links, and from time to time I might just throw out some of my own feelings about stuff that’s going on.

You can post here too if you like. Just let me know if you would like to get access. Your names will get posted with each entry, and I have administrative control over content. It would be another way you could contribute to our understanding of journalism and to show effort on your part. Let me know if you want to give it a try.

I’ll be updating this a lot in the next few days, and you guys are going to be my guinea pigs for some other stuff over the next couple of weeks. I know you’re happy. Bear with me, okay?
If you want to set up your own Blog, (I love Blogs!) I’ll be happy to help.

I love how tentative that sounds now, looking back. In all honesty, it makes me nostalgic as all get out, that experimentation phase, not knowing exactly what I was doing or where it was going to go. It’s what I miss most about being in the classroom, without question.

On November 13 of 2001, I started a class portal blog for my Web Pages and Portfolios class.

Please bookmark this spot as it will be the place where you can check for updates on assignments, links to cool sites and information about page creation and design, and links to your own personal weblogs.

Scanning the posts, I remembered that I had them set up their own blogs at Diaryland (which, I’m amazed to say, is still in existence.) They were the first of my students to have blogs.

About a month later, my first really personal blog was born, and I do mean personal. In fact, I’d forgotten just how personal some of the posts were at the very beginning. That was back in the day when I never thought anyone was going to be reading anything I wrote anyway, so I figured baring my soul was perfectly ok. (Um, no, not linking to that one.) After I got my first couple of comments, I changed course pretty quickly. That site did eventually turn into Weblogg-ed about a year later.

Then, on January 25, 2002, I started yet another blog, this one for my Journalism 2 students aimed more toward discussion and actually getting kids involved in a learning community online:

Welcome to the Journalism 2 Weblog where we will carry on a conversation about this class and about journalism as a whole. I’m expecting you to get in here and add to the conversation twice a week. That means an average (read: “C” for you grade grubbers) effort on your part would be around 15-20 meaningful posts over the next nine weeks. The more the better. (Remember the word meaningful,however.) A weekly topic will be posted in the left-hand column to get you started, but if you want the big bonus points, post here on your own. Find interesting articles or links that you think the class would be interested in and add them with a bit of comment or question. For a good example of what I’m talking about, see Metafilter. Debate is encouraged, but remember, be civil. I’ll try to enter the conversation too. So have fun with this and use it as a way to push your learning about journalism, the news, and the world around you.

Oooo…the grade thing hurts! But, I have to tell you, reading through some of those early posts from my kids, I can understand why this whole blogging thing bit me so hard. I mean seriously, read those very first three posts and you’ll see what I mean. And as I quickly scanned through some of the 1,057 posts that we accumulated on that blog in those nine weeks (which is amazing in itself) I am floored by the amount of thinking and linking those kids were doing. That was a very uncertain and scary time (as if today isn’t…) and it’s neat to read the kids working through it.

And that was it…I was hooked. I started blogs for my yearbook kids, my softball team, and the next fall I cajoled the technology guys to install Manila on one of our servers. That September we did the Bees, and my classes went paperless. They’re still serving up over 500 sites at my old school…pretty cool.

(Note: Just in case you got this far, I ended up having to re-templatize most of those old blogs today since they were all pointing at old servers which were long gone. Thank goodness Blogger let me push them back over to Blogspot…)

(Photo “Brace for Impact” by Big-E-Mr-G)

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