Today is September 8036, 1993. It’s also the ten-year anniversary of this site.
I thought for a long time what I should say to mark this occasion. This is a pretty big deal. Ten years ago I was 34 years old. I was half the programmer I am now and I didn’t think of myself as a writer at all.
Eventually I decided to write a post talking about the idyllic pre-colonial internet that existed before the Eternal September. I could talk a bit of internet history, which would dovetail nicely into personal history, and then bring it back around by talking about how this community is a lot like that long-lost world. I got a couple of paragraphs into this project when it started to seem very familiar. Did I already do a post on the Eternal September? Maybe somewhere deep in the archives there was an old post about this? Maybe I mentioned it in the Autoblography?
So I did a little search and found that yes, I have indeed written about the Eternal September before. But it wasn’t “deep” in the archives. It was one year ago. And the post was the nine-year anniversary of this site. So not only had I written on this topic, I’d actually done this exact same concept for a post, with the exact same through-line. It’s actually a pretty good post. Better than this one, at any rate.
From this, we can conclude four important facts:
- My memory is failing with age.
- While I’m getting better as a programmer, I don’t seem to be improving much as a writer.
- My memory is failing with age.
- I forget what #4 is.
Since I’m apparently incapable of coming up with anything newEven that ‘bad memory list’ joke is a re-run., allow me to re-package something old and offer you that.
No wait, someone else already did…
History, in Bulk
Chris Wellons emailed me a few weeks ago. He had lots of gracious things to say, and if I’d been thinking ahead I’d have thought to get permission to quote some of them. But since sloth and incompetence is the order of the day, I’ll just sum up: He took the D&D campaign – the very campaign that was the origin of this very site – and compiled it into an ePub format. This is more convenient, since you can take it with you, and have the whole thing in a single document instead of having it spread out over 84 blog entries. He also compiled it into a single-file HTML form, if you have more old-school sensibilities.
The version Wellons put together should have significantly fewer speling erorrs, typo, bad, punctuations, poor phrasing, and grammars. Although you could probably achieve a similar effect by simply inserting strings of random characters to the whole thing. This was some of my earliest writing work. I wasn’t very good, and I didn’t have the external motivating factor that comes from knowing that my work will be read by thousands of people. Thanks to Chris Wellons for the hard work.
The whole thing is about 75k words. That’s a small-ish novel. A little larger than the typical young adult novel but a little shorter than the fancy ones they make for grown-ups. Even after a decade, it’s still likely the largest single series I’ve ever done. (Although Mass Effect might top it in the end.)
Did You Know…
Some fun stats and trivia about the site:
- At the very start of the blog I had a few dozen posts to start with, but I didn’t want them all to have the same timestamp, because that looks weird. So I spaced them out by making their timestamps a day apart. I don’t actually know the real, actual start date of the blog, but the first post is dated September 1st.
- The blog has been running for 3,652 days, and there are 4,294 live posts, which works out to about 1.2 posts per day.
- As of this writing, there are 328,212 comments. That works out to roughly 90 comments a day, or a comment about every 16 minutes. I’ve read them all.
- Actually, sometimes I do miss comments. I read everything from the moderation queue. (It would be impractical to try and read everything by visiting each individual post and looking for new comments.) This lets me see every comment from every post in one huge feed. However, if there are more than 50 comments between now and the last time I refreshed the pageWhich is often the case when I wake up in the morning. then the new stuff will be broken into two or more pages. If someone just happens to post a new comment at the exact same moment that I move from page 2 to page 1, then comment #50 will get shoved from page 1 to page 2 at the same time and I’ll miss it. You can see these instances must be rare. It’s only possible about once a day, and only when the once-every-16-minutes comment appears when I change pages. I probably only miss a few a yearAnd many of those I find through context. If I miss Bob’s comment, I’ll likely discover it when I see people reply..
- As I said above, the D&D campaign is the longest series on the site at 75k words. The Autoblography is second at about 65k words. The Mass Effect series (including the unpublished partsDear people of the future. When this post was written, Mass Effect Retrospective 11: Ilos was the most recent entry) currently stands at 50k words, and I haven’t written about Mass Effect 3 yet. I predict it will be longer than the Autoblography, but I don’t know if we’ll exceed the D&D CampaignI know it sounds reasonable. If Mass Effect 1 and 2 took about 25k words each, then Mass Effect 3 will take another 25, right? But actually, Mass Effect 1 took 30k words, Mass Effect 2 stands at ~20k. And given that I often use the early games as a launching point for talking about the later ones, I’ll likely have already spent a lot of my ME3 commentary by the time we get there. But whatever.. We’ll see.
- The database for this blog is ~300MB. The images take up about 750MB. That sounds pretty skewed. Shouldn’t the images be a couple orders of magnitude larger than the text data? Well, yes. But for most of the lifespan of this site I stuck to sparse, tiny images. It’s only in the last couple of years that I really started pushing for more pictures. These days a post might be 16k of text and 300k of images. That all sounds really small to me now, but I remember five years ago it was a nightmare trying to do regular backups because the data was “so big” that phpMyAdmin or my internet connection would time out or choke on it.
There’s an old half-joke about observational stand-up comedians that as they become more successful, more and more of their material is focused on airline travel and staying in hotels. But that works in a lot of other domains as well. If you write a personal blog, then the path of least resistance will turn it into a blog about blogging. And if you’re really successful, then it might even become a blog about how you’re too busy to blog.
I’ve tried to keep that sort of nonsense to a bare minimum, but if there’s ever a good time to blog about blogging it’s when you’re already blogging about your blog. So let’s do that.
Blogging about Blogging
Simple, right? Except, no.
The “people” in the blue circle are implied to be the people who already read your content. The problem is that the blue circle is of an unknown size and location, and you have to find it by making content and seeing if people like it. The green circle needs to keep getting bigger, because eventually you’ll have said everything you have to say about the topics you know now. And just to keep things interesting, the red circle usually wanders around unpredictably. So finding that sweet spot in the center of the diagram isn’t always easy, and you can’t even guarantee that it exists today.
I’ve done what I could and I’m grateful for the success I’ve found. I hope you won’t begrudge me a gentle reminder that I’ve got a Patreon going these days, if you’d like to support the blog directly. Also there are those share buttons below if you’re more a fan of indirect support.
In any case, it’s been a good ten years. Thanks to Josh, Rutskarn, Mumbles, and Chris for being a part of this. Thanks to all of you for showing up, having smart things to say, and sticking with me even when the red circle and the blue circle didn’t always line up. It’s an honor.
 Even that ‘bad memory list’ joke is a re-run.
 Which is often the case when I wake up in the morning.
 And many of those I find through context. If I miss Bob’s comment, I’ll likely discover it when I see people reply.
 Dear people of the future. When this post was written, Mass Effect Retrospective 11: Ilos was the most recent entry
 I know it sounds reasonable. If Mass Effect 1 and 2 took about 25k words each, then Mass Effect 3 will take another 25, right? But actually, Mass Effect 1 took 30k words, Mass Effect 2 stands at ~20k. And given that I often use the early games as a launching point for talking about the later ones, I’ll likely have already spent a lot of my ME3 commentary by the time we get there. But whatever.
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