What's new: a quick trip down memory lane

What's new: a quick trip down memory lane
Photo by Adam Tinworth / Unsplash

I started working on MetaFilter in the Fall of 1998, but just before launching it I realized the new blog I built was for a community, not just me. So I built a little blog engine to power my personal domain starting in Summer of 1999.

my first personal blog with my ICQ number and boasting about my DHTML chops

By early 2000, I moved things to Blogger (remember the joy of FTP?) and off my own custom blogging engine, and eventually I got lucky enough to work at Blogger, on Blogger. Good times.

Haughey.com in early 2000, people thought I was a moody goth because of the photo

When my time at Blogger ended in early 2001, I bought the cheeky self-deprecating domain "wholelottanothing.org" and built a new blogging system in one night out of spite for the previous CMS, and launched this very site here at the new domain a.wholelottanothing.org.

the launch version of this site in early 2001

I loved this first version of this blog. Since I built it completely myself, I made my own posting page and it was just a blank white page with a title and a big blank area for the content of a post and nothing more and I loved the focus and simplicity. I also loved doing custom stuff like having this top/bottom design where only my latest post was above the fold in the white area, with the rest of the page below (something Blogger couldn't do at the time).

Fast forward a few years and I was getting tired of maintaining my own code and I was loving Movable Type for every other blog I wrote on, so I created a hybrid site where Movable Type handled all my blogging entires, but it spit out files I could include in custom templates, letting me make my site do anything I wanted.

This 2004-era version of the site was probably my absolute favorite. I spent months working with various APIs to build the right sidebar dynamically.

This was the early era of Web 2.0 where anyone could finally create things on the internet by just clicking buttons and filling out forms on web apps. But as I used these services, I got kind of bummed when thinking how I was posting but not on my personal site. To combat this, I used all the data sharing features of Web 2.0 to pull in my recent music listens, upcoming events I was attending, longer essays I wrote, my daily photo, a blogroll, my Flickr photos, and even links to comments I made on other sites.

I called this iteration "The Temple of Ego" and it felt like the ultimate expression of what a personal blog could do for the owner. If you wanted to know who I was, you could scroll down the sidebar and get a pretty complete picture of every single thing I was doing online at the time.

(plus: how cool was it to use old timey wallpapers on a modern blog?)

A year or so later, I got tired of fiddling with my own code again so I moved this site to TypePad, which was a hosted version of Movable Type. This was huge for me, because it was the first time I ever used an outside service for hosting all my content. I still made my own custom templates at Typepad, but I didn't have to run my own server, and I instantly felt relieved.

This site in 2007

Around 2010, I grew tired of Typepad's stagnant features and decided to finally go all-in on Wordpress. I'd played with Wordpress since the early days but didn't move my personal site to it until I felt like it was miles ahead of everything else.

And that's what I've used for the last 15 years to maintain this blog. Until today, as I've moved to Ghost.

Picking a blogging system in 2024

Blogging is in a pretty weird place these days and while there are a ton of small blogging engines on GitHub just a few giant players remain on the hosted side. I felt like Wordpress has grown long in the tooth, and I was no longer having fun with the extremely-locked-down nature of Wordpress.com so I began to look for other options.

You could say blogging is going through a bit of resurgence, in the form of newsletters. And while I would never touch a service like substack, or even move to only sending email newsletters, I was interested in finding tools that could combine blogging and email in modern ways as I admit there really isn't much difference between a blog post and a blog post delivered via email newsletter.

The big thing that made me slap down a credit card and spend three days importing 3,500 posts from the past 25 years was seeing their posting page, which looks like a modern version of the very same thing I built for myself in 2001.

A screenshot of the new post page at Ghost

Today I finished importing all the old posts (thanks Greg and Mark) and got copies of every photo and image for all those posts. I also imported my old pieces from Medium.com, which you might spot in archives.

If you want to follow along and get all my new posts over email, hit the subscribe link on the front page of this site.

Ghost so far has been fun and I like the design of most templates. I'll probably start working on my own custom layout that brings back archives and UI the way I like to see them, and somehow incorporates my Mastodon content.

Fun new software means I'm happy to write more often, so expect to see a more regular posting cadence here.