The History of Blogging: 12 Years of Blogs


Today, it seems like everyone and their cat has a blog, but it wasn’t so long ago that the term blog didn’t even exist. In fact, blogging is less than 20 years old as a form of media, and the word blog wasn’t used until 1999. We sometimes forget how new of an art form this really is!

Do you know your blogging history? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest achievements in the blogging world and take a moment to recognize the people who made blogging what it is today.

1999

After Jorn Barger coined the term weblog a few years earlier, pioneer blogger Peter Merholz from Peterme.com jokingly splits the word (which was intended to be a combination of web and log) into “we blog.” Later that year, Evan Williams, who co-founded Pyra Labs begins using the word as a noun/verb to describe people who journal online.

Also in 1999, Brad Fitzpatrick founds LiveJournal (originally as a way for the founder to stay connected with high school friends), Andrew Smales founds Pitas.com and Diaryland, and Pyra Labs launches Blogger. These tools are in response to the crazy success of Open Diary, which had launched a year earlier in 1998 before the term blog was even being used.

The first version of RSS, which at that time stood for RDF Site Summary, is released for use on My.Netscape.Com. Later that year, it is renamed Rich Site Summary.

South by Southwest Media is renamed as “South by Southwest Interactive” and begins focusing more on online media, including blogging and social media.

2000

Xanga Sites adds a blog and comment system to their free membership site, which was previously a way for users to share book and music reviews. They also introduce the “eProps” system, which was a way for users to essentially “like” another blogger’s post.

Boing Boing launches as a blog, based on the zine (started in 1988) and the static website (started in 1995).

2001

Movable Type is released to the public as a blog publishing system for self-hosted bloggers. It is originally called Serge. At about the same time, Drupal is released as an open source project, originally written by Dries Buytaert as a message board.

2002

Xanga reports reaching 100,000 members and a million hits a day across all of their blogs.

Moveable type introduces the TrackBack feature, which has since been adapted by almost all other blogging tools.

Heather Armstrong of Dooce becomes the first (known) person fired for blogging. Today, the term “dooced” is synonmous with “fired because of your blog/online presence.”

Blogads launches as the first ad network to connect bloggers and advertisers. Technorati launches as the first major blog search engine/directory.

2003

Google decides to cash in on the blogging boom in 2003 by purchasing Blogger from Pyra Labs under undisclosed terms. Pyra had been charging for their premium services, but under Google, Blogger becomes completely free. They also launch AdSense to connect bloggers and advertisers.

Atom is introduced as an alternative to RSS in June of this year. This syndication format is, in part, created due to the publishing controversy surrounding RSS, which had been developed by different groups without Netscape’s involvement or permission.

Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little decide to work together to create a fork of b2/cafelog, which had about 2000 blogs at the time. The result? WordPress, a name that is suggested by Christine Selleck, one of Mullenweg’s friends.

TypePad is launched by Six Apart. Based on the Moveable Type platform, this service is marketed to non-technical users and today hosts blogs for major news outlets like ABC, the BBC, and MSNBC.

Nick Denton founds Gawker Media, which today has over 10 blogs as part of their network and (as of June 2011) reportedly gets 220 million pageviews per month across the network. Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti launches The Huffington Post, which was sold in early 2011 to AOL for a reported $315 million. Jason Calacanis starts Weblogs, Inc, which was also sold to AOL.

Audioblogger launches as the first major podcasting service for bloggers.

MySpace launches with a blogging function connected to a user’s profile.

2004

As blogging continued to explode in popularity, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary names the term blog as word of the year.

Encouraged by the popularity of Blogger, Google purchases and integrates Picasa. They also add features such as templates, archive pages, comments, and the ability to post via email.

A new version of WordPress is released, this one containing the ability to use Plugins, which is now a core feature of WordPress.

Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr., aka Perez Hilton, launches PageSixSixSix.com, which was named the “most hated website” in less than six month and later is moved to PerezHilton.com.

2005

Internet Explorer announces that they would be adopting the Firefox feed icon (the little orange square with white radio waves) to symbolize RSS and Atom feeds. Opera follows suit, and since then, it has been the industry standard.

BlogHer holds their first conference in San Jose.

AOL and Warner Brothers launch TMZ, which today gets 18.5 million hits a month (as of March 2011). Pete Cashmore launches Mashable and Michael Arrington launches TechCrunch, which are today two of the most popular blogs online.

A study reports that over $100 million is spent on advertising on blogs every year.

Garrett M. Graff is the first blogger to receive press credentials from the White House.

YouTube launches, leading to the rise of video blogging. In 2006, YouTube is bought by Google for $1.65 billion.

2006

The first WordCamp was held in San Francisco. Over 500 people showed up for this one-day event. (The next one wasn’t held until 2007, but today there’s an average of one held every week in cities around the world.)

Jack Dorsey launches Twitter as a microblogging platform. Today, they report that there are over 200 million tweets per day.

Facebook introduces Facebook Notes, which allows users to effectively blog on their profiles or import blog posts from Xanga, LiveJournal, and other blogging platforms.

2007

2007: Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami launched I Can Has Cheezburger?, which today reports 1.5 million hits per day.

Tumblr launches as the first microblogging/sharing platform.

The very first BlogWorld Expo is held in Las Vegas after Rick Calvert and Dave Cynkin realize that there was no tradeshow out there for content creators in the new media world.

2008

Posterous launches, giving bloggers a way to post short updates via email or an online client.

2009

A study by Universal McCann reports that over 77% of Internet users read blogs.

Technorati reports that 15% of all bloggers spend 10+ hours a week blogging. 20% use their mobile device for blogging. 28% report making some money from their blog.

It is reported that there are 900,000 blog posts posted every day in 81 different languages.

2010

Technorati reports that 35% of bloggers are now making money from their blog, with 39% of all bloggers using mobile devices and tablets for blogging.

2011

BlogWorld Expo holds their first East Coast show in New York City. (Did you join us?)

Google launches Google+ as a new social media platform that is embraced by bloggers, though it is still officially in beta.

The world of blogging definitely isn’t done growing and developing. It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to update your website regularly, you had to do so manually. The word blog didn’t even exist! Today, I couldn’t imagine my life without blogging…and I’m excited to see what crazy, unimaginable developments happen over the next 12 years and beyond.

Note: Please leave comments with other blogging milestones we may have missed, and we’ll make sure to include them in the list!

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About Allison Boyer

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. I started reading blogs in 2000. it took my five years to start my own blog. I thought it was really complicated! LOL. I had no idea Evan and the blogger team had made it so easy any idiot (like me) could start a blog in five minutes.

    I really like this post Alli and would love to hear from other folks who would like to add other historical moments in the blogosphere. Like Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere” report. And Robert Scoble @scobleizer:disqus  declaring blogging Dead in 2005,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010, not sure if he has done it yet this year =p.

    I don’t know if Jason Calacanis @Jason has ever said blogging is actually dead, but I have heard him say more than once that no one can say or do anything new in blogging.

  2. I started reading blogs in 2000. it took my five years to start my own blog. I thought it was really complicated! LOL. I had no idea Evan and the blogger team had made it so easy any idiot (like me) could start a blog in five minutes.

    I really like this post Alli and would love to hear from other folks who would like to add other historical moments in the blogosphere. Like Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere” report. And Robert Scoble @scobleizer:disqus  declaring blogging Dead in 2005,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010, not sure if he has done it yet this year =p.

    I don’t know if Jason Calacanis @Jason has ever said blogging is actually dead, but I have heard him say more than once that no one can say or do anything new in blogging.

  3. I’m proud to say I’ve been blogging since 2000, and it’s been so exciting watching this wonderful world grow. I would add 2004 (I hope I got the year right) as the launch of ProBlogger.  Though @problogger:twitter , Darren Rowse  had other blogs before, it’s ProBlogger than inspired so many others to blog, and helped many of us achieve our dream of being a successful blogger. 

  4. Ooh great timeline! I was on livejournal way back in the day, and jumped onto Blogger to a bunch of other platforms along the years too. It’s a little crazy to see the evolution, and to know that now blogging is actually a “thing” that’s mainstream and sustains people’s living too. 

    I’d say that it was a big deal when Blogspot was created, because before that most people had to have their own server to run a blogger blog from… and blogspot allowed a whole new wave of people to start blogging. :)

  5. I started my first blog in 2005 on wordpress.com, deleted it soon after. My current blog started in 2008 (just past my 3 year mark!)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great post. I just heard someone in a webinar say yesterday that Web 2.0 started in 2003 with the launch of Blogger. Sounds like she got her facts wrong!

    • Well, 2003 is when Google bought it and made it free, which is what made it accessible to so many people. So it wasn’t the official launch, but it was a re-launch of sorts!

  7. Interesting post Alli! It sure is an eye opener for me, who is rather new to the blog world, though been a freelance writer for long. It is indeed nice to learn about the history of blogging, and how it as risen to where it has reached today. Thanks for sharing!

  8. SayMedia didn’t come into existence until late in 2010.  The company that started Movable Type and TypePad was Six Apart.  Although TypePad became part of SayMedia when the majority of Six Apart merged with VideoEgg, the Movable Type business kept the Six Apart name and still exists.

  9. Krissy Knox says:

    Allison, My comment was eaten! So I’m redoing it!  I was telling about the history in aol. I believe aol blogs started in 2003. i began blogging w aol in may 2004 on my blog Sometimes I Think I started several other bloggers in AOL. I also worked on the AOL community blog in an editorial capacity w maybe 4 other people.  That was a blast! Then we were told in 2008 that we were all being moved to Blogger (Blogspot) or to WordPresss (if we wanted to move our own blog). It was a shock, as most people found out over night, just like that.  Blogs were finally migrated over a period of a few people, and everyone attempted to get used to blogger.  Most have remained on blogger since 2008 until present (2011).  I have about 8 blogs on blogger, some that are being currently updated, some that are not.  I am playing on doing a wordpress blog or two, so as to monetize.  This road has been difficult, but has also been my passion.  So that’s the history of the AOL bloggers.  We called ourselves “j-landers.”  We still call ourselves “j–landers.”  But that’s another story.  If you’d like to hear it, I’d be glad to tell you!      

  10. Hi Allison! Wow, what an awesome breakdown! I remember starting my first LJ account back in 2005, I still have it active, just no longer post on it. I also remember when my friends brother had a blog way back in 2000. It was just a simple little blog without commenting ability or anyway to share it, but it was just posted so family and friends could see what he was up to. I thought it was awesome and I also remember thinking, “Wow, I wish I could have a blog like that!” Oh if I only knew. :) Thanks for the blast to the past (and present)!

  11. interesting facts there . .

  12. A good research. Really a healthy information shared. Thanks