I used to write in these journals, spiral notebooks, every day. I started doing that in 1993. I never wrote stories, and it wasn’t a diary either – it was some strange mix of both. But any writing I did there was trapped forever on paper, unless I transcribed it, which I never did. So my thought was to move some of this to the electronic world, to create a public web page where I posted some of these entries.
Jorn Barger coined the term “blog” on December 17, 1997. They didn’t become popular for a few more years. Livejournal started in 1999; so did blogger. This diary project of mine was born before anyone knew what the hell a blog was. I’m certain some other site influenced me to do this, and I didn’t pluck the idea out of thin air, but I don’t remember what I was reading on a daily basis back in 1997.
I did everything in emacs back then: email, book writing, usenet news. I bugged my friend Bill Perry for some elisp help, and he wrote a little thing that would let me hit a magic key combination and open up an html file with today’s date as the filename. So I’d hit Control-x Control-j, and the file ~/www/journal/html/041197.html would magically appear. I then hacked out a C program that I could run and generate an index of all of these pages. There was no database, no themes, no CMS. This was five years before wordpress was a gleam in Matt Mullenweg’s eye. It was rough, but it worked.
So on that Friday, I posted my first entry here. Back then, this project didn’t have a name. I called it “the journal” for a while. It eventually got the name “Tell Me a Story About The Devil”, which has its origins in a Ray Miller story. The name “The Wrath of Kon” is a more recent change.
I always hated the word “blog”, though. There was this whole journal or diary movement in the late 90s that everyone has forgotten, and all of a sudden, blogs were “invented” in the early 2000s. That meant I had a good five or six years of entries, when all of a sudden, everyone and their mother was a “blogger” and started getting book deals and money thrown at them. So yeah, I was bitter. But I kept at it. Now, I don’t give a shit about the term “blog”. I have bigger fish to fry.
There have been many changes over the years. My Rube Goldberg mechanism would break on January 1st every year, and I slowly duct taped more functionality to the system, adding a bit of CSS, a comment system, and eventually ditching the entire thing for wordpress. The page originally lived at speakeasy.org, and moved to rumored.com/journal in 1998. I eventually dropped the /journal part. The content also slowly changed, moving from diary entries to stories to news to travel reports and back again. I never had a solid theme, but I think that prevented me from painting myself in a corner. I think if I originally would have only blogged about the books I read or a quest to collect every Atari cartridge, this would have died a long time ago.
So. 15 years. 1149 entries. I think the last time I was able to calculate a word count, it was something like 650,000 words, and Infinite Jest is something like 460,000. I did a book that collected the first three years, the Seattle entries; I keep thinking about a book that collects some of the best essays of the last dozen years, but I’ve got something on all four burners right now.
Anyway, here’s to fifteen years. I don’t know many other sites that have been around this long. I wonder where things will be in 2027.