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September 12, 2004

The History of the New World Order

I couldn't sleep last night, and some time, about 3am, a thought suddenly sprung to mind: Lucy Huntzinger invented the blogroll. Obviously, this was long before online diaries were called blogs, and long long before lists of the blogs one reads regularly were called blogrolls.

Back in April 1997, Lucy kept a popular web diary, Aries Moon. At the time, web rings were popular, and there was a web ring for online diarists, Open Pages, open to anyone who wanted to join. Lucy's innovation was to set up a web ring, Archipelago, specifically for the diaries that she thought were well-written and worth reading regularly. This was a considerable innovation, and brought her plaudits from other people who found Archipelago worth reading, and hate mail from the journallers whose diaires she didn't include. She pointed out repeatedly that anyone else was free to make a similar choice, but she certainly took a lot of flak for being first.

And nowadays, as we count weblogs in millions, we all have blogrolls; public lists of the diaries that we personally think are worth reading regularly. But Lucy was first; and as it's becoming clear that blogs, and blogrolls, and friends lists, are key building blocks of the way people interact here in the 21st century, I thought it was important to note it down. For the historians, you know.

Posted by Alison Scott at September 12, 2004 07:34 PM


Hal is of the recollection that a ring called People Chase, put together by Karawyn Long and Magdalena "Maggie" Donea existed first, but may have been less on the radar of folks of a fannish bent. Then again, Hal's memory may be faulty since the two were roughly contemporaneous.

Posted by: Ulrika O'Brien at September 13, 2004 03:58 AM

Yes... People Chase is no more, but appeared from other data on the web to be a selective ring of personal websites generally, rather than a ring of journals. I know it's hard, these days, to envisage personal websites that aren't journals, but they used to be the majority.

Posted by: Alison Scott at September 13, 2004 06:48 AM

As you know, Bob, ideas that make sense at 3am soon wither and vanish in the light of day. It was an amusing notiong but no, I didn't invent the blogroll. Yes, Karawynn had already done a selection of worthy web sites called People Chase; it wasn't exclusively covering diaries. Yes, other people were logging the web. What Archipelago did was select from diaries and journals only, according to my personal standards, and offer a webring that would be small and interesting in contrast to the inclusive and ever-growing Open Pages list. All else is as Alison reports.

Posted by: Lucy Huntzinger at September 13, 2004 09:10 PM

Wanting to say this, I can't. Nor the other. So I note this fine entry.

It's the new commenting!

Posted by: Gary Farber at September 14, 2004 11:33 AM

What about jerrypournelle.com?

Posted by: me at September 18, 2004 07:11 PM

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