There seems to be a trend lately that describes a history of weblogs beginning from a very different place than I expected. I’ve seen a few occasions where Andrew Sullivan is credited with bringing weblogs to the masses, most importantly after September 11.
This revision of history doesn’t totally surprise me, as I’ve heard comparisons of the web’s history (and weblog history, indirectly) drawn to early television. In the first few years of television, the people creating shows knew the technology inside and out, worked the cameras, lighting, and sound while simultaneously writing, producing, and acting in their shows. The same can be said for many web pioneers. They had to not only code pages by hand, they often ran their own web servers, created their own graphics, and wrote everything themselves. Eventually, TV took off when the professionals showed up. The radio personalities and vaudeville comedians brought their heightened creativity to the medium and it finally gained a wide audience.
When people think of television history, names like Philo T. Farnsworth don’t come to mind. Rather, early talent like Steve Allen, Milton Berle, and George Burns come to mind. The pioneers of the technology and the craft are long forgotten and the first wave of professionals are remembered. Perhaps this is the same thing that puts Andrew Sullivan at the forefront of weblog history. The first “real journalist” to “get weblogs” and bring them to the masses, he paved the way for the mainstream to take notice, and since their notice began with him, I could see how it looks like he started it all.
This is not to say it’s an unfair characterization and that I’m bitter, nor is it to say I’m accepting this new reality and will continue to tinker with technical matters in obscurity while the “real pros” take part, it’s simply to say this is what I’m observing and how it compares to other media.
(update: Anil wrote something thought-provoking about a similar subject, and it’s much better than this half-baked rambling)