The function of the blog, to someone who does not read blogs, is not exactly intuitive. Given my undeservedly-lofty position as one of the local blog leaders, I often find myself trying to explain the concept, and in an effort to provide examples other than my own, I'll run down the blogroll and list a few blogs worthy of further exploration — and often as not, someone will ask, "How come they have such silly names?"

Silly names? What's silly about, oh, Bad State of Gruntledness or A Fistful of Fortnights or Least-Loved Bedtime Stories?

Really? You think so? Then you'll probably be just as appalled by these:

  • Da Hypnotist
  • The Point of No Return
  • Another Brick in the Wall
  • The Word Shop
  • File Not Found
  • Squirrel Talk North
  • Merlyn's Tomb
  • The Chamber of 32 Doors
  • Pukeberg Nitroblam Inc.
  • Flat State Haven
  • Radio Free OKC
  • MacFinn's House of Dreams
  • TradeWinds
  • Torii Station

And none of these were blogs: these were actual bulletin-board systems located somewhere in area code 405, which until the split-off of 580 in 1997 included all of Oklahoma except the northeastern corner. Some of them I actually used myself; for a brief period I even ran one under an assumed name. (It was old enough, obscure enough, and short-lived enough to have been missed entirely by the compilers of the list, which bothers me less than you think.)

Of course, the BBS had its limitations: most of them could accommodate only a single user at a time, they required a more-or-less dedicated phone line ($200-300 a year), and few managed to gain any recognition beyond their own regions.

But still, there are many similarities between what was then and what is now:

BBSBlog
Usually a one-person effort Usually a one-person effort
Often run by someone under a pseudonym Often run by someone under a pseudonym
Outside comments outnumber posts by sysop Outside comments outnumber posts by blogger
Usually has list of other recommended boards Usually has list of other recommended blogs
Much bragging about number of visitors Much bragging about number of visitors
Small percentage of guys pretending to be girls Small percentage of guys pretending to be girls
Rather a lot of trolls Rather a lot of trolls
Many operators quit because they couldn't stand it anymore Many bloggers quit because they can't stand it anymore

I could go on, but you get the general idea. Eventually, I suppose, something will supplant the blog, and I'll copy this table over for use on it. Plus ça change, and all that.

The Vent

#435
1 May 2005

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