Social Software Technology

On 'The State of the Weblog Nation (2002)'…

The early UK weblogging community was really focused around a couple of core mailing lists (UKBloggers Social and UK Bloggers Discuss) which subsequently fell apart, probably as a result of meddling in the structure by myself and Mr Morgan. The list spawned well-documented blogmeets – the earliest of which was in early 2000 – which themselves triggered the beginning of a vibrant, real-life community of people who worked, played, lived and occasionally slept with each other (as well as regularly colliding with the cult I look after at Barbelith).

Over the next couple of years, the community kind of fragmented as core people ran off back to their home countries or got involved in work or broke up acrimoniously. Some of the original people ponced off to another list called vodkajelly and plotted behind the scenes, before that too gradually evaporated under other life commitments. And alongside, parallel weblogging communities – many of which had never heard of UK Bloggers – started to emerge. Most of the people who were there at the beginning are doing pretty well for themselves, and are still friends. But we don’t see each other as much as maybe I’d like.

Anyway, a few months ago I was reminded by one of my partners in early UK weblogging crime, Ms Meg Pickard how much fun it all was, and also how ahead of the times we occasionally were. She reminded me in particular of an e-mail that I’d sent to the list suggesting a UK weblogging festival, which I’d written after many discussions and bits of trouble-making with Meg and people like Cal and Mo and Davo, and pointed out both how self-indulgent it was and how similar elements of it were to conferences that appeared years later.

So anyway, I thought I’d republish it here for the purposes of nostalgia and to reference youthful enthusiasm. It’s kind of lame and embarrassing, but it’s also kind of fun, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t think again of what an event for and about webloggers might be like. Think of it as a rambling, infantile starter for ten, and feel free to shout out below any thoughts it inspires (other than the obvious ones concerning slapping or getting a life). There are minor edits for language and formatting because I was much more of a potty mouth in my late twenties.

From: Tom Coates
Date: 2 July 2002 23:20:11 BDT


Being a day in London organised by some people – possibly us – designed to be a celebration and parody of weblog culture (such as it is) for the benefit of all oppressed webloggers and weblogging shareholders world-wide, designed to be a laugh and based around encouraging participation from every single weblogger we can lay our arsehole handmitts on – featuring:

  • invited american webloggers and international weblogging stars/whores…
  • DAVE FUCKING WINER (we can do this… I’m sure of it)
  • warbloggers
  • serious panel discussions and presentations:
    1. News of the people – what will the shape of weblog aggregation be in
      a few years time?
    2. Broadband blogging – what else of our lives can we possibly put
      online, and why the hell would we want to..?
    3. What have we done?! what the hell has weblogging done to the
      internet? is it good, is it bad – who the hell do we blame?
    4. Weblogging Utopia – how has weblogging helped the disenfranchised and
      the oppressed?
    5. Shape of the future – what’s the potential next step in weblog-tech –
      what will weblogging be like in five years time – what functionality
      could transform weblogging into something more X, Y or Z? What’s to come
      AFTER weblogging?
  • panel discussions and presentations from (shorter, more funner ‘n’ shit) – examples… (imagine 70s style Open University lessons on Hydrocarbons and Calculus)…
    1. Writing “the most boring weblog in the world….”
    2. Blog love – a powerpoint presentation about two noomeejawhores
      brought together by puters…
    3. What to write when you have nothing to say… by several old-time
    4. Lying on your weblog – the path to daypop?
    5. Why nothing else in the world matters but fucking weblogs…
    6. Backslapping wank – a presentation on non-reproductive sexuality, by
      Tom Coates…
    7. The weblog path to successful self-promotion…
  • debates… each one half hour long… Two people stand on stage and pitch opposing positions for five – ten minutes. Audience asks ten minutes of questions. Audience vote on the replies and EVERYONE HAS TO STICK WITH THEM ALL YEAR… (or at least pretend they are going to…)
    • “Grouchy” vs “Happy” – What should be the mood of weblogging for
      2003? – Representing ‘Grouchy” – Mr MOOOO MOOOOORGAN… Representing
      ‘Happy’ – MR … er … oh I don’t know, we’ll think of something…
    • “Pointless” vs “Pointful” – Tom Coates vs Anyonewho’spreparedtotakemeon
    • “Short posts” vs “Long Posts” – Cal Henderson vs Meg Pickard
    • “Blogger” vs “Greymatter” vs “Moveable Type” vs “Mothra”
  • ongoing polls through the day, with voting from the floor in an exciting fashion…

AND MY FAVOURITE FEATURE… Vote for the leaders of your weblog nation… People are forewarned that they can come representing a particularly political party who wish to rule weblogland – at the beginning of the day each one can get up on stage and declare their policies for ruling weblogland (“READ MY LIPS! No more green weblogs!”) and then can canvas and campaign throughout the day – and then the final
event of the day is the voting for the party that will lead weblogland for ALL ETERNITY. We’ll get some dodgy Americans over and people like Cory Boing Boing, or Megnut or Winer and stuff – it’ll be great…

Things we need:

  • a venue
  • some money
  • Matt Jones’ sponsored Wireless networking of some kind…
  • A/V equipment, projector
  • a guy covered in post-its who can be a living ‘weblog’
  • – a rousing rendition of “WE ARE THE WORLD” at the end…

4 replies on “On 'The State of the Weblog Nation (2002)'…”

That’s dead interesting, if only because of when it was from. I mean, so much more interesting than the crap that’s churned out masquerading as weblog conferences right now, if because your plan was so grass roots. Tiny scene then, really. And it was so much more fun…
Also, I liked the guy-covered-in-postit-notes.

Too weird.
Just today i was clearing out my Contacts list and stumbled across the aforementioned UKBloggers mailing list address…
And tonight I found my first internet course certificate (from ’95). Those heady days indeed.

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