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September 2019 Weblog: Communities and Where They Sometimes Go Wrong

The Darker Side of Blogging

We web folk tend to look at the olden days of blogging as a simpler time when people on the web would gather for discussions and collaborative experiments. In our tinge of nostalgia, it can be hard to pull down those rose colored glasses. I find myself doing it just about all the time. Writing this month in Outline, Joanna Mang lifts the curtain behind Shakesville, a blog she herself wrote for. Over the years, Shakesville has amassed a bit of a reputation for its near cult-like following and cliquish devotion to the sites creator. Mang uses the history and present of the site as a reminder that the web was never perfect, and echo chambers have existed long before Twitter or Facebook. Earlier this year, the Verge did a story all about a small and dedicated Vermont based forum called Front Porch, if you’re looking for a flip side of that story.

I Still Don’t Know What XKCD Stands For

This month, Polygon did an interview with Randal Munroe, creator of the webcomic XKCD. It starts with a bit of history of the site and comic itself, but eventually veers into a really interesting discussion about superfans, vocal minorities, and the future trajectory of online communities. The New Yorker, incidentally, also wrote about superfans this month.

Livestreaming History

I’m doing a bit of research on the Webby’s this month. Did you know you could stream the ceremony from 1997, 1999 or 2000 courtesy of Web Archive? If that’s at all your thing, it’s a fun watch. Marc Maron hosted the awards in 1999, and did a damn fine job. H/t to Andy Baio for his article that pointed me to the links.

Twenty Years of Browsers

Missed this one last month, but Adrian Roselli wrote up a quick recap of his Browser Archive, which he first launched back in 1999, coupled with a good rundown of other efforts in the recent past to recreate the browsers of yesteryear. That Browser Archive is a pretty comprehensive list. And if you just can’t get enough of browsers, Ars Technica had an article earlier this year with a rundown of some long forgotten, pre-Netscape browsers.

Twitter Thread That Should’ve Been a Blog Post

This month in my semi-ongoing segment, a thread from Tom Coates reacting to an article about Silicon Valley ethics. Coates is a longtime blogger and web creator, and he was involved in some early location-based online communities. His thread acknowledges the problem at the root of the article, but he injects a bit of nuance about good intentions and alternative futures we could have walked down as makers of the web. It’s a really interesting perspective about the people that helped build the early social web.