A Trip Through the Wayback Machine

24 April 2014 · 7 comments

I’ve been blogging since before “blog” was even a word.

I posted my first web site over twenty years ago, in the spring of 1994. Back then, all that was available was rudimentary HTML (no cascading style sheets!) and browsers like Mosaic and Lynx. We nerds were early adopters, of course, and we made stuff up as we went along.

The earliest versions of my site no longer exist, not even in the Wayback Machine. The oldest iteration available is this version from 24 January 2000. As you can see, at first my personal website contained random stuff about fantasy football, comic books, our book group, and the books and movies I consumed.

You can see in some of these pages — especially my reading list — early stabs at blog-like structure. (If you follow the links to various books, you’ll see my reviews plus links to other resources around the web.)

But my first actual web journal (I used to hate the term “blog”) was my fitness diary from 1997. Midway through losing forty pounds, I decided to chronicle the experience on the web for my friends and family to follow. I followed that up again in 1998 after I gained back ten of those pounds.

Then, on 22 September 1998, I started my first real-life weblog, which I called Great Expectations. In my first post, I wrote:

When I was young I was a writer. I don’t mean that I aspired to be a writer “when I grew up”, I mean that I wrote. I wrote poetry, I wrote stories, I wrote letters. I wrote for myself and I wrote for others. Writing was what I did.

Sometime during college I discovered I was no longer a writer. Sure, I wrote for classes, but that’s not the same thing. Although I wrote some poetry and fiction throughout college, by the end of my Senior year my writing activities had ceased.

For seven years I haven’t written, but now the bug is back.

[…]

Over the course of the past few years I’ve discovered the curious phenomena known as “web journals”. Having read thoroughly those belonging to Karawynn Long and Michael Rawdon, I’m intrigued by the medium and believe it would be a fantastic tool to practice my own writing.

And so it began.

Note: Life is funny. Since writing that more than fifteen years ago, I’ve met both Karawynn and Michael. I like them both. They’re both still writing for the web, and I still read their blogs all the time. Michael writes at Fascination Place and Karawynn writes at both a personal site and a personal finance site!

That first blog lasted only a month. Then life happened. Part of the problem was there wasn’t an automated way to publish the things I wrote. I had to do it by hand. It wasn’t difficult, but it was time consuming.

But a year or two later, I discovered Blogger, a new tool that helped to automate the process of producing web journals — or “blogs”, as they’d come to be known. I resumed writing for the web at my new personal domain, foldedspace.org. Apparently my first post with Blogger was on 27 May 2001, but it doesn’t exist in the Wayback Machine. The earliest post I can find is this one from 05 June 2001 in which I discuss some early work for Computer Resources Northwest (the computer consulting firm that would eventually own Get Rich Slowly!).

Since those early days, I’ve written a lot of material for the web. I’ve started dozens of websites, most of which have fizzled out after only a few days. But on some sites, I’ve produced thousands of words. Or hundreds of thousands. And at Get Rich Slowly, I’ve written over a million words.

It occurred to me last night that I miss some of the things I wrote. Every now and then I’ll stumble upon an old article of mine while googling for something else. These old articles make me misty in a way, and I wish they were gathered together in one place. So, that’s what I’m going to do. Slowly but surely, I’m going to re-read all of the old stuff I wrote. Some of it will remain in dusty corners of the internet. But when I find an important or interesting piece, I’m going to copy it over here to jdroth.com and re-publish it on its old date.

I worry that doing this will cause you all to receive email and RSS updates of this old material. I’m not meaning to bombard everyone with a bunch of outdated articles. I just want to collect some of my favorite memories in one place. If it gets to be too much, please let me know and I’ll find a way to prevent you all from receiving these updates. Sound good? Meanwhile, I’ll be sure to share if I find anything especially fun.

Now, though, it’s time for me to go do some publicity for Get Rich Slowly: The Guide. A blogger’s work is never done…

Note: Ooohh… I just found this version of foldedspace.org. This is what I consider “classic foldedspace” — it’s from the Golden Age of my pre-GRS blogging days. I would love to replicate that look here…

1 No Nonsense Landlord April 24, 2014 at 19:53

I had a website about the same time. I posted a few items, mainly annual Christmas letters. Back when you had to know html to post.

Wordpress is a lot easier!

2 JoDi April 25, 2014 at 08:51

I get your posts via email, and I would love seeing some of your older writing posted here!

3 Corey April 25, 2014 at 09:12

I have been following your writing since sometime in 2006 or 2007 while I was still in college. I would love to see some of your older/favorite content. I originally found you and Trent of the Simple Dollar in the same time frame. I have not read Trent’s work regularly in years. I love reading how your thoughts and passions have changed over time while Trent has not evolved at all. Keep on producing great content and good luck with the GRS course!

4 Edward April 25, 2014 at 12:52

Definitely interested in reading any old material! Fire away at the RSS.

5 Ben April 25, 2014 at 17:13

Hey JD, would love to see re-prints of what you view as your “greatest hits” material-wise over the years.

I’ve enjoyed observing (mostly silently) your evolution over the years from the early days of GRS, to selling the blog, taking some time away from PF writing, and now you starting to come back into it again. Your older stuff would help round out the picture.

Getting it in the email blast (even if it ends up being a lot) is fine by me – those who don’t want to read it can simply hit the delete button or unsubscribe.

6 Amy April 26, 2014 at 16:14

I’m with Corey. I’ve seen a lot of the past writing, but at or close to that time. We have all evolved but love look-backs to see where you’ve come to since then as well as ourselves. And hell, what we all thought to be true at the time.

7 William @ Drop Dead Money April 28, 2014 at 14:13

I’m a reaaaaaaal late-comer to the writing party. In my earlier life I was the quintessential business exec who kept promising myself “one day, one day, I’ll get to so what I really wanted to do: write.”

Your pioneering work has inspired hundreds. I know — I talked to them. :) Thank you for that.

But I bet you’re discovering the age old two-edged sword: lovely looking back, but how do I keep going over that raised bar? :)

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