When I was in school, creating your own website was all about cramming as many brightly-coloured animated pictures as possible onto the screen. There was very little by way of content because none of us particularly needed a website; we all, in fact, had little to contribute to the World Wide Web. This was never an issue, though, and we all spent many happy hours experimenting with HTML code and thinking of interesting designs.
Nowadays, creating a website is damn easy. There are sophisticated (and, not to mention, free) platforms in which to easily create websites such as blogs. These can range from single-authored personal ‘e-diaries’ to professional, multi-authored websites with thousands of hits a day. With the rise of popular blogging platforms, such as Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress, the number of blogs has dramatically increased in the last ten or so years. For example, there are over 175 million Tumblr blogs and over 75 million WordPress blogs.
I see blogging as a microcosm of the World Wide Web. A blog is a tool to say something to a wider audience. Some blogs have absolutely huge followings and can literally be mechanisms in which to inform, educate and effect change. Others are a bit more low-key but might have a deeper, more personal impact.
What I am trying to say, albeit a little grandiosely, is that blogging is actually quite liberating. You can channel passion and interest into an end product that could, potentially at least, be read by thousands of people. If you compare this to periods of the past, the life changing dimension of such communication is quite striking.
Over the course of the first millennium AD, large parts of Britain gained, lost and regained the art of writing. For the formative couple of hundred years after Roman rule and before the Christian (re)conversion, the population of England had little means of written communication beyond the runic language. Long distance communication was only possible by ship, horse or foot. The developing kingdoms would, of course, have had networks of administration and communication. Moreover, the flow of artefacts from western and northern Europe evidences patterns of trade, contact and gift-giving.
I’m not arguing for one moment that England was cut off during the early Anglo-Saxon period, but communication would not have been easy. Drawing parallel with such a period in time can, at least for me, foster a greater appreciation of what you have in the present. Because of the World Wide Web, written communications like blog posts can be broadcast globally and instantly. Such media can inform, educate and even change the way you think.
Internet communication is an incredible human achievement. To truly appreciate why it is so liberating, you have to understand the historical process that worked towards it. In this sense, then, blogging is liberating.
Image courtesy of NASA. The incredible collection of images can be found here.