A History of Blogging

[Essay #4 written for ENGL 215 “The Craft of Writing”  at the University of Arizona and turned in on October 22, 2013. The assignment was to write 500 words in the style of David Foster Wallace, and to attempt humor. I attempted.]

My earliest online diary entry appears to be from June 24, 1997 and it is full of angst and includes the word “cybernudism.” When on September 27, 2005 I announced via my blog I was changing its name from “Leis on Life” (and still nobody knew how to pronounce my last name) to “Cybernudism,” I had already exposed not my body but fleshy thoughts and opinions over several earnest years. You want to see growth? Don’t read my blog. About the name change I wrote “Cybernudism is a word I coined that represents that Internet-inspired drive to expose yourself to the world, in more ways than just visually and nakedly.” What drives us to record and broadcast our inner stratigraphy? The website was http://www.cybernudism.com and you probably shouldn’t go there.1

The history of blogging begins with the online diary, a digital naked form that emerged in 1994 from antecedents that when listed against their arrival dates chart the history of the Internet, printing, writing, and the emergence of life on this planet. Wikipedia’s entry on “Online diary” informs us that “The end of 1997 is generally considered the cut-off date for early adopters.” Why this should matter is less important than these personal observations: (1) I take a lemming’s comfort in knowing there were others in that era who kept an online diary, and (2), hell yeah, I got in under the wire!2

Wikipedia’s lengthy entry on “Pornography” recommends that if you are looking for more details on pornography’s history, you should read the lengthy entry “History of erotic depictions.” I’m not bringing this up because “cybernudism” has anything to do with porn but because the history of blogging and the history of erotic depictions are similar in their webby lists of antecedents.3 This model of knowledge and knowledge-seeking has, along with blogging, been distilled to what we now call “liking,” which, like any modern push-button sharing scheme, informs your social graph4 of your wants and desires, with minimal effort, a kind of cybernudism that suggests tiny ants with jaws clamped down on leaves as fungus5 breaches their chitinous heads to drops spores on uninfected ants far below. The sexual analog here is masturbation.6 It is a small mercy that the social networks have so far resisted the masses desire for a “don’t like” button despite its obvious utility as demonstrated in comment sections web-wide. Could I explain the “don’t like” button with a sexual analog? Doubtful.

Where will the meathooks of history take blogging next? I would propose a new definition for “cybernudism” but until there is a Wikipedia entry for the current definition this would just be speculation.

Footnotes

  1. I haven’t owned that domain in years.
  2. This was before wireless.
  3. Wikipedia’s entry on “Antecedent” includes a definition and a list of links to entries about the word in various contexts; this hyperlinked document model of knowledge also works with history.
  4. Not the movie.
  5. You can learn all about Ophiocordyceps unilateralis on Wikipedia, of course.
  6. Not mutual, despite the ability for others to recursively like your like.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype and is forthcoming from The Laurel Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.