home / blog / podcasts / videos / notes / photos / about / more

20 Years of Blogging

On my own website

Posted by Jeena

I missed it, but last month I had my 20-year blogging anniversary. Let's recap a bit about how it started and how it went.

Back in 2004, WordPress apparently existed, but I didn't know about it. I knew about Movable Type, which was and I guess still is mostly written in Perl. Getting a Perl website running has always been a challenge. I tried; I really tried. But I never got it working.

Writing a Blog Engine

Because I couldn't find any other blog software, I decided to write my own. It didn't seem so difficult. You make a form in HTML in a new.php file with a title and content, and on submit, you store the content along with the publishing date in a MySQL database. Then you write an index.php which retrieves the items from the database and shows a list of titles as links to a post.php. Sprinkle some login magic with session cookies and an edit.php, add some error handling and RSS generation, and you have yourself a fully functioning blog software. And that's what I did. Over time, I did more, which ended up in a project called Jlog. It has been used by a couple of hundred websites because it was really easy to install.

My First Blog

My first blog was in German, and it is still online. You can find my first blog post here.

The design you see there is the second design, which my brother helped me create because he was very good at doing graphics and stuff in Flash, which we then exported as PNGs.

As I stated in my first blog post, with the introduction of the blog software, I also implemented my 4th design where I tried to make it look a bit better because people were complaining about how bad it looked.

Screenshot of my weblog with a dog head as the header picture and the first entry

I had been publishing articles on my own website since 2003, but I did that mostly manually by writing whole HTML pages. With the introduction of the blog software, it was much easier to publish, so I did so much more often.

Back then, it was possible to add comments directly under the blog post. This made the whole thing really interesting; there were many discussions happening in the comments. Check out, for example, this blog post from 2005 about Firefox vs. Opera. It has a whopping 71 comments.

Opera fighting Firefox

My Second Blog

Around that time, I moved to Sweden and wanted to switch to a language that both people from Sweden and Germany could understand. So, I started publishing some blog posts in English like Incompatible character encodings - Rails patch, but it felt wrong because people subscribed to my RSS feed expecting a German blog, not an English one.

This is why I decided to write another blog engine. I was very unhappy with the spaghetti code that Jlog ended up being, and at work, I was already experienced with Ruby on Rails. I followed the famous A blog in 15 minutes with Ruby on Rails screencast.

And this is what the first version looked like:

First blog post in the English blog

Over time, I got rid of the over-hyped design and implemented a dark mode which makes it look like the rest of the dark mode Adwaita GNOME, which I'm using as my daily driver. I already talked about how sad this decision is in Content is King? - I was wrong about it, which I encourage you to read afterwards.

I also had to remove the possibility to comment because I just couldn't fight the constant spam. What I still have is Webmentions, which work well enough. I even saw that for some reason, even Mastodon posts which link to an article work fine. See the comment section of this post.

Why Do I Blog?

This is quite simple. While it changes slightly over the years, it's mostly for me to sort out my thoughts about some topic and to document something that has been going on which I might want to come back to in the future and read from a different perspective. I imagine it's similar to when people write a diary, but less frequent, less personal, and fully public.

Back in the day, I posted much more personal stuff, which I nowadays try to avoid to not expose my loved ones to the harsh reality of the Internet.

I also added short-form content because I didn't want to come up with a title every time I just wanted to post something like a tweet on my website. That led to the frequency of my blog posts getting lower.

But again, I'm only blogging for myself. If someone else reads it and finds it interesting or amusing, then it's a bonus but not a requirement. Therefore, my guess is that I'll keep blogging in the future too. Probably infrequent as ever, but that's how I like it.

6 Mentions



Have you written a response? Let me know the URL:

There's also indie comments (webmentions) support.