Originally published on 10/28/98.
To my old-school blogging colleagues: this is a stream of consciousness, written as I’m thinking about it. So take it as you will.
Back in the early 2000s, we started blogs, and started talking to each other, and became friends. REAL friends. We had no idea our individual, independent contributions would link up to create a movement that revolutionized media, marketing, and the national conversation (in my case, about parenting, but on other topics, too). [Shoutout to all the conference/summit organizers who created the in-person space to cement these friendships.]
Remember what the media landscape was like back then? Traditional publishing and media was closed to most, so very few people had access to an audience. We were part of changing that. It wasn’t “influence” or “personal branding” back then, it began as community.
Friends, our voices and the gathering spaces they created changed our world. I think we’re in a moment when we can do that again.
I’m not talking about all of us launching political blogs. I’m talking about reigniting our independent spaces once again. Turning up the volume on our individual voices and real-life stories, sharing our values…creating an alternative to the mass media (now social media) messages and memes that keep floating to the top.
You know how Humans of New York is this tapestry of different peoples’ stories that somehow shines a light on what connects us? Our blogs could once again be that, writ large, distributed across geographical, political, racial, religious, ethnic and gender lines. No silos, no algorithms. Just real people sharing real stories so other people can read and comment and feel a part of those stories and be reminded about what connects us. Incubating community without a specific agenda beyond sharing of ourselves and connecting people.
We could use the years-long network of trust we’ve built with each other to amplify those conversations. I’m talking old-school blogrolls and comments again, not for building influence or traffic, but for re-energizing community. Between us as friends and colleagues. Between us and our readers. We all miss that, but there’s nothing stopping us from doing that again. The currency wouldn’t be dollars or page views or virality. It would be the connections between us, once again. Not going back — this isn’t nostalgia. I’m suggesting the 2018 version of blogging and *real* online community.
I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that if we did this, with the influence we have now, it could light a spark that could eventually make a difference in the state of our country. Idealistic? Yes. Naive? I don’t think so. Actually, I don’t care. America is fractured, and I’m willing to throw ideas at the wall for fixing it. Let’s bring an experimental mindset to this. Ask ourselves, what if? No one would have believed what our blogs would grow into had they told us then. Look at us now.
The connections between us are already built, and they’re powerful. We can use them to rebuild this country. I’m serious.
I’m better at ideas than implementation, so I have no plans beyond starting this conversation (and re-starting my blog). Let this get us thinking and talking to each other and hopefully acting.