In 2003, the internet felt like it was just us.
Self-publishing online was fluid and inviting in the early years because the community was self-selecting — the sort of people who would know what Blogspot was in 2003. I didn’t worry about my boss finding my blog. I didn’t worry about getting rape threats in the comments either. (Just thinking about how absurd that sentence would have sounded in 2003 is giving me a crater-sized hit of nostalgia.) We didn’t have the same worries over public personas, because the internet felt like it was just us.
I wasn't a blogger in 2003, and I often feel a slight pang of regret when I read about the nostalgia of those who were. While I'm sure there's a bit of memory inflation going on, it nevertheless feels like a splendid place to be.
But even for those of us who weren't creators at the time, there's a lesson to be learned. The atmosphere that was created in those early days was a boon to the web, and to bloggers especially, precisely because it put a premium on the things that bloggers value most: community, serendipity, conversation.
It is precisely those values which seem to be resurfacing with email newsletters, mimicking the early days of blogging. Joanne McNeil explains.