Who deserves credit for being the first real blogger? Weekly #2

Many people could lay claim to being the first blogger.

Justin Hall, whom the San Francisco Chronicle called a “Pioneer Blogger” who had foreseen that journalism was going to change, or

Dave Winer, a software engineer and writer, who thought the media did a lousy job of covering the tech industry because they didn’t understand it, and who accurately predicted that someday everyone would have their own Web site, or

Jorn Barger who used the term Weblog and then became known for his controversial links, or

Political bloggers, such as Drudge, who brought their sites to national attention and are as influential today as CBS Newsman Walter Cronkite in his heyday, or 

Evan Williams who invented “blogger,” a free tool for automating the updating of web blogs which allowed millions to blog. 

This guessing game is all part of the fun of reading Scott Rosenberg’s new book, “Say Everything,” a detailed history of blogging.  It is filled with inside stories about some outrageous characters who pioneered blogging, each one building on the work of the others.

Perhaps then there is no one person who can be given all the credit for being the “first real blogger,” but that seems to be avoiding the question. So, drum roll please, I present the “first real blogger” award to Evan Williams, and here’s why:

By inventing his tool, “blogger,” Williams brought blogging to a mass market.  Blogging no longer was for the techies and super brains.   Blogging no longer required intensive labor with a limited set of options. 

Suddenly blogging was for everyone. Williams did much to enhance blogging’s popularity by allowing the ordinary people to become involved.  “Blogger” was perfect for the novice and its sign up rate jumped from 2,300 user accounts in 2,000 to over 100,000 by the beginning of 2001 and by the middle of 2002, there were over 700,000 user accounts.   During that time, Williams almost went out of business but cut costs by keeping it going in his small apartment.  By 2003, “Blogger” had been purchased by Google.  Because of this simple tool, people were empowered to start their blog or a blog for their business or their organization.

Rosenberg writes “by bringing blogging to a mass market, “Blogger” validated the idealism shared by many of the pioneer webloggers, from Justin Hall to Dave Winer and beyond–the belief that one day millions of people would pour their writing onto the Web, if the software developers and designers and Web companies would just give them good simple tools and then get out of the way.” 

Evan Williams did just that by giving the world his simple tool.  His impact is still being felt today with his latest business Twitter.


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