I read 22 years of blog posts. It took a year.

Starting on July 12, 2020, I began reading my blog from the beginning, one day of the year’s worth of posts at a time. As of this week I’ve read the entire corpus. 

Since my first one on May 31, 1999, I’ve made 10,124 posts here, writing 2,315,925 words in the process.

I used the opportunity to do a little bit of maintenance: I repatriated video and audio that was originally embedded from sites like YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud to be stored locally (for the video I used a scheme I conjured up in 2018 to automate all the steps). There were 200 videos in all, and 295 sounds

I also worked to finish the repatriation of images, started in 2018 with my decamping from Flickr. There were a bunch of images I’d embedded on the ill-fated Share on Ovi platform still in place; some of these I was able to recover from my local backups, others are lost to history (the Internet Archive, alas, did not archive Share on Ovi).

Beyond the technical upkeep, though, the meat of the exercise was revisiting 22 years of my life.

Reading posts from the same day all at once turned out to be an interesting way to cross-cut through posts that were written in chronological order. So, for example, I’ve just finished a month or so of reading posts made from Copenhagen and Sweden on the many early-summer trips I took there over the years; back in March it was the trips I took during the school break with Olivia; in December it was 22 years worth of Christmas Days, and in June it was a year by year trip through Catherine’s birthdays.

In the winter of 2003 I attended an event hosted by ur-blogger Dave Winer in Cambridge, a gathering of the bloggers to talk about blogging. During the Q&A I made a comment that, as much as anything, I was writing for Olivia, writing the story of my life as she was growing up. What I’ve realized since is that I was, in truth, writing for myself: messages in a digital bottle that, here in the future, remind me of who I was, where I’ve been, what I did (and didn’t) do.

It’s a daunting prospect to read your 35 year old self (or to listen to your 25 year old self), and I must admit that I breezed over much of the mid-to-late aughts angry-at-Island-Tel-and-CADC-and-the-world post archive. But in addition to my angry young man self, I was reminded of some beautiful moments too, many of them. And to read myself grow up.

This blog will be, I think, the grand project of my life. I’ve been doing it for so long that writing here falls into the same category as eating and sleeping: it’s just simply how I live, and I cannot imagine not doing it.

Now that I’ve read the entire thing, I’m going to try and tamp down my predilection for nostalgia and focus forward. There’s lots more to see and do and be. And to write about.


Ray's picture
Ray on July 17, 2021 - 06:52 Permalink

Is there a blog post that you especially enjoyed rereading?