Slightly over ten years ago I came up with an idea. I’d left University and moved from Scotland down to Yorkshire and was struggling to effectively keep in touch with friends and family. While sending out lots of emails saying the same thing over and over again was fun I thought there had to be a better way to do it. Unrelated to this I’d previously, on a whim, registered the domain www.jbconners.com and hadn’t a clue what to do with it.
Then that idea I mentioned struck me. What if, instead of emailing everybody telling them what I’m up to, I simply created a website, wrote about all the things I got up to and had it automatically email friends and family when I posted something new? People could post comments after each article and no more multiple emailing. Genius!
I certainly wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea (there were plenty of people who’d been doing it for years already) but weblogs – or blogs as they eventually became known – were nowhere near as popular as they are now. I began with a simple site – a reverse chronological list of posts – newest first – and collected them into monthly archives. Whenever I posted something new I sent out an email to all the people I knew who wanted to be kept updated. I hand rolled some basic commenting functionality (this was before comment spam existed – those were the days) that let people add their two cents. I eventually renamed the site to “John’s Adventures” in a kind of ironic way and it stuck.
My goal was always to keep people in touch with what I was up to and friends and family were the audience I was writing to in my mind. I certainly wasn’t writing trying to become popular, famous, monetize or attract any attention at all – just keep friends and family up to date with my life. And for the past 10 years that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
The thing that’s surprised me (other than that a great many people actually choose to come and read what I’ve written) is how much I’ve connected with people out there in the real world through my site. For instance, when I eventually came to terms with the death of my mother I put pen to paper to write down my thoughts on the process. Some time later I decided to post it here and the response has been overwhelming in terms of comments and emails from people telling me they felt the same way, it brought comfort to them or that they were glad to hear they weren’t alone.
I’ve made many friends I got to know virtually through blogging. I remember the first time I actually met my now good friend John Topley – I realised I actually knew him more than most of my real world friends! I’ve made friends I’ve still yet to meet (like Anne – who wrote the first blog I followed and still do). I’ve been recognised in the real world from the things I’ve written having been asked: “You’re not John Conners are you?” as well as by the software I’ve built and publicised here.
I’ve even been sent random free stuff which I’m never going to complain about! However despite repeatedly writing about travelling nobody’s sent me any first class tickets to Bora Bora so that remains one of my hopes! 😉
It’s also helped me improve my general writing skills. I’ve always tried to write in the same way I speak in the real world. So if you know me in the real world you’ll hear my voice in your head reading this text out but likewise if you’re reading this and haven’t met me you already know how my sense of humour works in the real world and that I talk a lot! In terms of communicating with people via the written word be it in a work context or otherwise, writing here has helped me immeasurably.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read that “blogging is dead” when new fads come along like MySpace, twitter and Facebook. I do partake in the social networking thing (as anyone unlucky enough to be my friend on Facebook will attest to). However while sometimes weeks can pass without posting anything here, the compulsion to write about the random things I get up to along with photos of the things I’ve been doing eventually overcomes me and I come crawling back.
I sometimes take a look through my archives and re-read things I wrote years ago. Often it makes me laugh or smile as I remember events I’d long since forgotten. I’ve even searched Google for an answer to a question and found myself on my own site where I wrote the answer! It’s a small virtual world.
Anyway, I see no reason to stop doing what I enjoy so here’s to the next 10 years and beyond! 🙂