Ten years ago today, I started a blog. It was later removed from the Web by the company that employed me to write it, and until today only existed inside an archive that can itself be a bit ephemeral.
Now it’s back, in a way — here.
The first, post, on Oct. 26 1999, was entitled “We Launch” (the link goes to the restored post on this site). It described the new site, called EJournal, which was located at SiliconValley.com, an online affiliate of the San Jose Mercury News, my employer at the time, and it described the purpose of the exercise. As I wrote that day:
I’ve been thinking about the new ways of journalism, namely the ways the Internet is imposing on all of us. Internet Time has compressed the lives of all kinds of people in all kinds of businesses, and journalism is no exception. In fact, it may be one of the businesses most affected in the long run, both in the opportunities the Net creates and the threat it represents.
On two occasions during the five-plus years I wrote the blog for Knight Ridder, which owned the newspaper and the website, the company removed it from the Web. The first time was because of a platform change combined with the company’s misguided understanding of what the Web was about; removing history struck me as perverse and still does. The second time was after I left Knight Ridder; the reason given was that it would be too costly to keep running the server — something that again struck me as bizarre. But they had the right to delete it, even if I though they were doing a dramatically wrong thing.
What prompted this project was the remarkable Web-sleuthing of Rudolf Ammann, who used the wonderful Internet Archive to locate many of the earliest posts. This made me wonder if it might be possible to resurrect a lot more or even most of what had gone missing.
Pete Kaminski, a friend and technical whiz, took on the task. He’s done an incredible job of spidering, scraping, parsing and otherwise pulling out of the Archive as much as possible.
We’re not nearly done. We’re looking for more of the EJournal, of course — dozens or perhaps hundreds of posts are still missing, and may be gone for good.
We’re also planning to add as much as we can find of the Bayosphere project, another site that has gone off the air. Bayosphere, some of you may recall, was an abortive Bay Area blog that was sold to Backfence, a hyperlocal media site that failed. The Backfence folks were kind enough to return the Bayosphere domain, and that’s why we’re putting all of the archival material under that URL. It just feels to me like the right place for it to live.
A special word of gratitude goes here — to the man who helped me understand why I needed to become a blogger a decade ago and whose software, then in beta form, was our original EJournal platform. He’s Dave Winer, a pioneer whose work is at the core of much of what we do today on the Web, an innovator who keeps on innovating. I’m grateful for Dave’s energy, vision and help.