Were They Blogging On Cave Walls?

Remember those free AOL disks that used to be everywhere? They came unsolicited in the mail, and it seems like they were packaged with every magazine you bought (remember buying magazines?).

Things have changed a lot in this online world. Today I’m thinking about how ubiquitous blogs are these days, when they really haven’t even been around that long. Before blogs, there were digital online communities (now they seem kind of primitive to me) like the moderated discussion groups at Usenet, GEnie, the early CompuServe, email lists and bulletin boards.

I can remember getting on those boards and lists and thinking the whole thing was so cool, but also pretty limited. Back then, I would have loved knowing where we were headed with this Internet business. Those were the dial-up days. Before that, people drew their messages on cave walls. Leslie Lang, Writer, Ghostwriter, Blogger

I wonder what’s still to come.

Justin Hall is said to have been one of the first bloggers. He started writing online in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College and he’s still going.

We didn’t even have the rather ungainly word “weblog” until 1997, when Jorn Barger coined the word for web + log.

In 1999, Peter Merholz jokingly turned the word “weblog” into the phrase “we blog” in the sidebar of his, well, blog, and gave us the word “blog.”

Shortly after that, Evan Williams started using “blog” as both a noun and a verb, and he concocted the term “blogger” (he was helping to create the blogging software Blogger at the time).

That’s about when blogging really took off as a result of blogging “tools” coming on the scene. Open Diary started in October 1998 and had thousands of online diaries. That was the first blog community where readers could comment on other writers’ entries.

Also in 1998, the Charlotte Observer live-blogged Hurricane Bonnie, and that’s thought to be the first known instance of a blog on a traditional news site.

LiveJournal started in March 1999. Blogger.com started in August 1999 and brought blogging to the mainstream (Google bought it in February 2003).

Popular American political blogs started appearing in 2001, how-to manuals started appearing for bloggers, and established journalism schools started researching blogging and noting the differences between it and journalism.

Leslie Lang, Writer, Ghostwriter, Blogger
Steve Case, CEO of AOL back then, recently responded to a Quora question about how much money AOL spent in the 1990s sending out all those disks. “A lot,” he said, among other comments. Another Quora reader calculated it at $300 million.

Movable Type, which spawned TypePad, started in September 2001.

Since 2002, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping and spinning news stories.

WordPress started in 2003.

In 2004, blogs have become increasingly mainstream. Political candidates were using them, the Columbia Journalism Review began covering them regularly, and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary declared “blog” the word of the year.

In 2006, I set up a blog for Richard Ha, and I continue to help edit and write posts. We have blogged close to three times a week ever since – eight years now! – and we’re still going strong.

Since then I also spent a couple years with a business partner running the now-defunct blogs Honolulu On The Cheap and Big Island On The Cheap, blogged here at my own website, and blogged for clients at various sites including at Fodors.com and Ancestry.com (alas, no byline at Ancestry, but I write some of the posts at that link).

This month, I’m participating, along with a lot of other writers, in a 30-day blogathon. I really enjoy blogging. There’s a nice rhythm to posting to the same blog over time, and it’s a comfortable way to bring your message – one that resonates with and is important to you – to your readers. The writing is often a little less formal, while still being professional. Readers can respond to what you post, and sometimes there’s some back and forth. It’s a very satisfying style of communicating.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Painting Pictures About Hawaii

Hawaii writer, Leslie LangI specialize in writing about Hawai‘i, where I live and have deep roots, in addition to ghostwriting memoirs, biographies and family histories. I help Hawai‘i individuals, small businesses and larger ones with their content marketing.

From the Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

I’m familiar with Hawai‘i’s culture, its language and orthography, and many of the islands’ movers and shakers. Whether it’s writing content about Hawai‘i’s business, travel, culture or people — or something else — I do it. My master’s degree in anthropology, specifically the cultural anthropology of Hawai‘i and the Pacific, makes me knowledgeable about and able to write well about Hawai‘i’s culture and people. My journalism degree and background means I know how to conduct research and find the information I need.

Who hires a writer like me to write content? Hotels (I’ve written for the Kohala, Halekulani, and Trump Waikiki hotels, among others), representatives of trade industries (like Hawaii Hospitality magazine), airlines (Hawaiian Airlines, the former Aloha Airlines), travel companies (such as Jetsetters, Fodors.com), online behemoths (such as Ancestry.com), human resources companies (ALTRES), other corporations (Trek Bicycles) and local businesspersons (Richard Ha, and many others). Just about anyone who has a business and a message to impart, in other words.

I’ve been in this business full-time now for about sixteen years, and it’s been interesting to see content marketing emerge. It’s sort of a new buzz phrase, content marketing, but really it means writing articles, web copy, blog posts, white papers, reports, and the like to help tell someone’s story. It’s very much what many of us writers have been doing all these years.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Voyaging Through Time & Space

June 2, 2014

The Hokule‘a and Hikianalia, two traditional-style Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoes, just left from Hilo Bay for the first leg of a trip around the world. The trip is called Malama Honua, and it will be a three-year circumnavigation of the earth covering 47,000 nautical miles with stops at 85 ports in 26 countries.

There is an excellent website about Hokule‘a and Hikianalia, where you can track the voyage on Google Maps, and read much more about it.

Hokulea, Hikianalia, Hilo, Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hawaiian Tradition, Hawaiian Culture

It’s one of the coolest things in 21st-century Hawai‘i, in my book, and has such an amazing story.

Traditionally, Polynesians traveled the oceans in this sort of wa‘a kaulua, double-hulled canoe, without, of course, modern navigational instruments. Over the centuries, though, Hawaiians, and most of their Polynesian cousins, lost that knowledge. Back in the 1970s, a small group of Hawaiians went looking to learn how to revive this tradition. Few people in the Pacific still knew how to navigate across the ocean traditionally, without instruments, but a handful of people in the Pacific did. For the most part, though, they guarded their knowledge and wouldn’t share it.

Finally the Hawaiians found Mau Piailug, of Satawal in Micronesia, who still knew the ancient techniques and agreed to teach them. It’s an enormous, amazing story reaching across both space, cultures, time, more:

In 1975, no Hawaiian living knew these ancient techniques forblue water voyaging.[21] To enable the voyage, the Polynesian Voyaging Society recruited the Satawalese Master Navigator Mau Piailug [of the Weriyeng school in the Caroline Islands (map) of the Federated States of Micronesia (map) ] to share his knowledge of non-instrument navigation. While as many as six Micronesian navigators had mastered these traditional methods as of the mid-1970s,[22] only Mau was willing to share his knowledge with the Polynesians.

Mau, who “barely spoke English,” decided that by reaching beyond his own culture, sharing what had been closely guarded knowledge, he could possibly save it from extinction. Through his collaboration with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Mau’s mentorship helped “spark pride in the Hawaiian and Polynesian culture”, leading to “a renaissance of voyaging, canoe building, and non-instrument navigation that has continued to grow, spreading across Polynesia (map) and reaching to its far corners of Aotearoa [New Zealand] and Rapanui [Easter Island].” (Thompson, Reflections on Mau Piailug, 1996) – Wikipedia

The canoes are such a symbol of Hawaiians and their traditions, their culture, their achievements and excellence and abilities. And the Hokule‘a, and the crewmembers, have been around since the 1970s, so we’re well into another generation of students now. They are all about sustainability and education and science and more. This tradition is unlikely to die out again anytime soon.

On the website, you can read, in both Hawaiian and English, about honoring the ancestors who went before us, see photos of the two wa’a departing from Hilo for Tahiti, read about Polynesian navigation, and more.

Do you love that the Hokule’a has a blog? I do.

Here’s a post about the canoes leaving at Richard Ha’s blog, which I edit. He is a local businessman and farmer, and supplied bananas and tomatoes for the crews.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail