Ten years of Blogging

I-am-10-stars-badge-large

Ten years ago today I signed on at Blogger* and kicked things off with posts on an article by Greg Mario Whitfield about Bass Culture and a new issue of Datacide Magazine.

Paul Meme and I had been avidly following Simon Reynolds’ Blissout website for a few years and had noted his move to Blogger the previous October. Paul then found this guy blogging as That Was A Naughty Bit of Crap (TWANBOC). And we thought “Oh, ok, WE could do THAT…”.

I started my blog a week after TWANBOC began and Paul followed with Shards, Fragments and Totems (which I always thought was a terrible title) nine days later.

blissout

Simon Reynolds’ Blissblog logo

We weren’t alone. An explosion of music blogs had commenced. Initially nobody had a comments facility. (Indeed, the internet was a very different place  before Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr existed). Back then, if you wanted to respond to people’s posts you would have to write something on your own blog.  You’d find out about new blogs from mate’s blog entries and through links in people’s sidebars. Sidebars got quite political after a while, with huffy handbags-at-dawn “Well! I’ve DELETED you from MY SIDEBAR!!!” anguish from some of the emerging primadonnas. Beyond The Implode’s astute take on this was characteristically essential.

For an old git like me, blogging echoed the democratic responsibility of fanzine publishing.

I gave a talk about my take on blogging and fanzine writing (and how they differ from journalism) at the Audio Poverty festival in Berlin. The audio of the talk is available via that link.

My pre-history of blogging

But actually my written and self-published output was quite like blogging before blogging was possible.

2000-2002: I’d been doing monthly updates to my website with a hooky copy of Dreamweaver and then uploading the pages via FTP. It was fun, but a bit fiddly – and there was hardly any way of getting feedback. There’d be reviews, links to articles I’d published, links to interesting stuff by allies, charts, etc.

1995-1997: The first six issues of Turbulent Times had similar content, except they’d come out three times a year and be mailed out as a four page A4 leaflet, with inserts. Like blogging, this slotted into a community of like-minded groups such as the Neoist Alliance, London Psychogeographical Association, Decadent Action, Manchester Area Psychogeographic, The Equi Phallic Alliance, Parasol Post and the Association of Autonomous Astronauts – all of whom published newsletters in a similar way.

Some sheets from The Sheets Project

Some sheets from The Sheets Project

1994-1995: Before that, there was what came to be known as The Sheets Project. Once a month I’d post out 50 copies of an untitled A3 sheet with various diary entries about what I’d been up to. Mr Autotranscend would give me some of his A.K.C.T. fiction to include as well.

“The Golden Age of music blogging”

It feels like a long time ago now. I think I’ll always associate some blogs with a particular period in my life, and the music that accompanied it. It was all incredibly fertile – blogs spawned other blogs, online forums, social meet ups, relationships, online mixes like Blogariddims, publications like Woofah and a ton of music projects.

Some bloggers became paid journalists or produced books. (Some were already in this position, but I preferred to see them cut loose online, being gloriously subjective and personal.) Other people came and went – some of them deleting their entire blogs when they’d had enough. I met some amazing characters, both online and in the flesh.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 22.49.52Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 23.07.23Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 23.08.14

The blogosphere was an incredibly chaotic, fluid, seething mess. I loved it. Even the idea that everything was available online was subverted by falling into a maze of sidebar links and finding that new amazing blog – and then never being able to locate it ever again. People had a laugh AND took it seriously. Tried to out-do each other, but also supported people.

Blogging in 2013

Changes in technology and software have diluted the community aspect of blogging. Now that most music can be heard online, it seems that many people don’t see the point of writing about it. Wankers.

My RSS feed is a bit bereft these days, although I have stayed in touch with a surprisingly large number of people and am vaguely aware of what some of the more conventionally successful ex-bloggers are up to. I think people tend to specialise more these days, which is good if you share an interest with someone, but it’s all a bit tidy.

Simon Reynolds now seems to be running an insane twenty nine blogs, so it’s hardly surprising his original Blissblog has lost focus a bit. (“Crowd sourcing” material for blog posts about drum patterns! Dearie me!)

Matthew Ingram transformed TWANBOC into WOEBOT and then experimented with a fine array of new formats, culminating in his own online TV documentaries before chucking it all in and making music.

woe

He’s now republished his blog as an 800 page kindle/e-book thing. It’s great – really good to see those articles again. A new entry from Matt was the kind of thing you’d surreptitiously print out at work for the bus ride home, but then read it online anyway when the boss was out of the office because you were too excited. Let’s put it this way – I downloaded a kindle app just so I could read it on my computer at home and I wouldn’t do that unless I had to – and I already read most it anyway…

The self-publishing aspect seems to have diminished recently, with people preferring to contribute to online magazines or uber-blogs. I can see why they would do that – you want people to read your stuff and they are less likely to when it is hidden away on a music blog these days, bar a few exceptions. I’m the same, with pieces I’ve contributed to Datacide or Woofah or Agit Disco.

We have “evolved” from people composing blog posts, to forum threads, to Facebook updates or 140 characters on Twitter, to posting nothing but Youtube links or context-less images on Tumblr, to “liking” something with the click of a mouse. Convenience has a lot to answer for, but I think there are still lots of interesting conversations happening too.

And me? Like everyone I’m in a different situation than I was ten years ago. Technology has moved on, my interests have shifted and I have less time/more commitments. There’s nothing subcultural right now that I feel I can slot right into. I feel less need to  write about whatever I am thinking about on a daily basis. There’s too much going on, so it’s a good time to focus.

I’ve returned to fanzine publishing as a bit of an experiment, but the blog is still here to flag up whatever I think people should know about. It’s great that Matt has published Woebot as a book, but I feel far happier having ten years of my blog still available for people to stumble on when they are at work randomly googling things. I don’t feel the need to anthologise my writing because (unlike Woebot) most of it was very much of its time.

So! Thank you if you’re still reading this, or have ever left a comment, or sent me a nice email. Or sent me a letter or your music or bought me a pint. Maybe see you in another ten…

Greatest Hits

Asher Senator

The first 23 gigs I can remember going to series

LONDON ACID CITY: When the Two 8’s Clash

Mixes

Nicky Crane

Occultural roots of “Inna Gadda da Vida”

Papa Levi

Pseudo Skins

Punk Comics 3: Straight Edge

Reggae Noughties

Secret Ska History of Stamford Hill (by Malcolm Imrie, not me!)

Smiley Culture

Squids

*This blog was initially hosted at Blogspot, then moving to my friend Dnyl’s chaos.org.au site before finally being fully integrated into uncarved.org. All the content from each incarnation is here, but some of the older stuff is a bit scrambled after everything got hacked last year.

15 Comments

  1. MARTIN says:

    Wow, blast from the past, though you’ve left out a coachload of the debauchery, ultra-violence and scandal, as usual…but yeah, loved the whole chaos of it, especially when the philosophy blogs got swept along in the tide and ended up in comments boxes about Weetabix skinheads or whatever. In retrospect, I’ve no clue how I managed to get through whole days at work flicking from blog to blog without getting hauled in front of HR. Presumably the boss was engrossed in K-Punk.

    Weird to see some of the old names again, real shame Rob LoveEcstasyCrime’s no longer with us. Weirder to think 99% of Blogspot was people posting what they had for breakfast, or knocking out ‘inspirational’ quotes for the day. Didn’t you or Dubversion do a ‘Blogger.com drift’ at some point, or am I dreaming that as well? I think the golden age died when people swapped over to WordPress. Far too tasteful layouts by far.

  2. Congrats on reaching the 10-yr mark. You were here long before me and will no doubt still be here when I’ve gone off to live on a remote island, detached from all links from the outside world…the Isle of Wight, perhaps. Yours, me, aka Slim Jenkins.

  3. LOKI says:

    Congratulations… Quite obviously this Blog has been a constant source of inspiration… For a while everything was kinda magickal & met a lot of lovely people as a result of all that culturl tic – ing & now there’s a similar attempt to address things from a music making angle – still sort of trying to keep my blog going but I think there’s a lot more fear of offending people now that there’s the distinct possibility that you might actually meet them… Kicking against it… Which is what I loved about your fanzine… More barbed!

    Hope you make it down to Brighton for the Hacker Farm etc debacle…

  4. EKO says:

    wow…10 years…congrats, mate! so come august it’ll be 10 years since i started gutterbreakz. the baby that was growing in my wife’s tummy back then is now 9 years old and doing his best to distract me while i try to type this comment. his 6 year old little brother, who wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye back then, is nearby. much has changed, but we’re still here, somehow managing to maintain enough creative energy to keep working in our respective specialist areas, keeping the, erm, ‘counter-culture’ alive the only way we know how. here’s to the next 10..

  5. 10 years! Feels like a long time ago, dunnit. Thanks for the props John – big up yourself my friend. Uncarved 4eva.

  6. 2NDFADE says:

    Ah congratulations John…. you and Kek and Gutta and Loki and all the others have encouraged me to read and draw and listen to stuff I never would have done…. so cheers to one of the original golden age bloggers…..

  7. BUNNYHAUSEN says:

    Congratulations John – sweet memories of the golden age of the blogsphere. Belated big up for the Turbulent Times print zine too – all fantastic stuff. Personal favourites definitely the weetabix skins and straight edge comix posts, but they’re all gems to me. Keep on keeping on

  8. JOHN says:

    Thanks everyone – you lot kept me going over the years!

  9. […] Happy Birthday, Uncarved! […]

  10. Happy Anniversary Dear.
    Nice one! Appreciated the historical overview vibe. Contextual, man. Just wish I’d grasped how the internet worked and got onboard a bit sooner.

  11. RICK ZURREKT says:

    Thanks for starting, writing and keeping Uncarved.Is part of an era for me. I read you from Chile.

  12. JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THIS... says:

    “The Struggle for a New Musical Culture” by William Bennett – Come Organisation, Whitehouse, DJ Bennetti, Cut Hands

    Force Mental magazine (Antwerp) issue 1 –

    “It should be noted before continuing this article that in this work I turn not to strangers, but to followers of the movement whose hearts belong to it and who wish to further its cause and study it more deeply. Less people are won over by written matter than by what they see and hear. However, this will serve as a foundation and reference for new disciples.

    Come Organisation is concerned with the struggle against the unhealthy negroid influences in all popular music today. These primitive forces have corrupted many generations of youth. In music and in word. The slogans of “peace and love” and international friendship in the songs of the 60s and 70s are nothing but the disguised voices of pseudo-Marxists. The cancer of this type of music has made such inroads that it will take a supreme effort to destroy it forever.

    Nevertheless, its destruction is not enough – it must be replaced. In classical music we have the great works of Wagner and Richard Strauss, but nothing for young people who like ‘Pop” and ‘Rock’. No! The future must be embraced with both arms and a new form of power will be created which will win over the Anglo-Saxon youth for a New Britain.

    We must blame the corruption of the negroid music and the Jewish exploitation for the reprehensible movements today like Anti-nuclear, Amnesty International, and feminist groups, to name but a few.

    The countries with the strongest right-wing and nationalist forces in Europe are those countries where ‘Rock’ music has made the least impression. I am thinking of Spain and Italy now, but there are other notable examples of the phenomenon. The political climate of young people today is moving away from us ; I hold the ‘Rock’ culture to blame.

    The music of Come Organisation artists fulfills a twin purpose – firstly, to crush the disease we have just discussed and secondly, to express the new movement in terms of power and strength of will. It is almost totally electronic in nature, extremely uncompromising and sometimes violent in expression. But brutality is respected. People need something that will give them a thrill of attack and make them shudderingly submissive. Why babble about brutality and get indignant about violence?

    A recent released record ‘Liebstandarte SS MB’ ‘Triumph of the Will’ juxtaposes a speech by Adolf Hitler with a powerful electronic piece by Maurizio Bianchi from Italy. This record has proved to be very popular, especially in Britain and Germany. Other records will be released along similar lines.

    If we have the will, we will have the victories.”

  13. […] great post by John Eden on ten years of blogging, nicely captures a wonderful moment, now […]

  14. ANDERS says:

    The connection between Nicky Crane and Ptv is supposed to have been Mr Sebastian. This makes sense if you think about it.