I started blogging 9 years ago today. I write that in a state of mild disbelief. It’s not a big deal. Two posts a month is all I can manage. Stretching the definition of whether I’m a blogger or someone with a blog. An irrelevant academic question. What matters is the result of writing something on a regular basis for nine years. Logic says I should have improved. My bias claims the opposite. So I’ll let you decide in the comment box below.
The compulsion to write what the voices dictate make my opinion irrelevant. Among those compulsions are these anniversary posts. With the traditional link to my 1st blog post. Why? Tradition dear boy. Tradition.
Instead of the usual tedious thank yous’ and the navel gazing I thought I’ll offer a personal narrative of kottu.org. A site that’s always been part of my blogging life. I began writing is at Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s prodding a long while back.
kottu.org a Personal History
In the beginning, the Sri Lankan blogosphere was a smatter of blogs. Then there was kottu.org (more on that later) and The War. Thankfully The War ended. Many blogs suddenly had little to say and died. Or moved to Twitter.
Thus the Sri Lankan blogging completed a cycle as a medium. Returning shrivelled, quiet and scattered to its original form. A fringe medium. Ignored by the majority of the Sri Lankans for its irrelevance in their lives.
I rode that turn of the chakra when I started blogging in early 2007. The golden age of Sri Lankan blogging had just started to flare. I got a front row seat to its goings on. It was an interesting ride.
Central to that ride was blog aggregator kottu.org. It was becoming the central square of the Sri Lankan blogosphere when I arrived. I wrote a post about kottu.orgthat covers the details. Founded (and still maintained) by the grand old man of Sri Lankan blogging, Kottu.org was not the first Sri Lankan blog aggregator. Just the one that hung on long enough to gather a following.
It offered the convenience of seeing what the other bloggers were writing about at a glance. To join all it took was an email to its creator. At its peak, kottu.org had the vibe of an old time online forum. Incendiary posts from one blogger triggering responses from others. A cornerstone of the Sri Lankan blogosphere were its prominent bloggers. They had a talent for setting comment feeds on fire. I won’t bore you with a list.
The War more than just cheap fuel for flammable writing. It became the Sri Lankan blogosphere’s central theme. At a time when being part of anything online was the privy of the few. The few with Internet access for personal stuff and the confidence to strut their English (Sinhala fonts and blogging platforms had barely met).
The ant called the Sri Lankan blogosphere then as now, had little to do with the elephant of mainstream (print) media. Accept for an occasional clash. When blogs became free content streams for newspapers to plagiarise to fill Sunday feature pages. The “articles” would be “credited” with the blogger’s handle without even the curtsy of a request for permission. The supposed justification was that because it’s on the Internet, copyright didn’t apply. It’s just copy-paste. What are you complaining about.
As internet access seeped through the tiny digital part of Sri Lankan society, the blogosphere became, for a moment, a social media platform. Facebook hadn’t reached critical mass. People were still head scratching about Twitter. Instagram was just another blog post with a photo.
Then the bomb of peace blew it all away. After the final blog fights over what was going on on the beaches of Mulativu, faded, things went quiet. Facebook and Twitter came to the fore. Short blurts on both platforms were easier than labouring over long form writing. Which few people read (according to the stats). Thus the Sri Lankan blogosphere slid deeper into the irrelevance from which it came.
Despite writing this post I’m not nostalgic. What I miss most of that time is having a good pile of interest in things to read. Local, topical and readably written. Stuff like that is still around. I just have less time to sniff around for it.
Change is the only constant. Which is how things stay more or less the same. While giving us the wrong idea of what the change is. For a more analytical take on kottu.org read Yudhanjaya’s post on the subject.