A blog is (re)born

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking that I need to resurrect the blog/journal portion of this website. It’s been years since I blogged on a regular basis, or kept up with what other bloggers have been doing. In fact, this particular version of paulfolson.com has never included a blog at all, just this general catch-all sort of place called “News and Musings” where I post the rare bit of information about my career — if, that is, I remember to post anything at all. That’s a far cry from the way things were when this whole website thing began.

My first home on the Internet wasn’t a website at all. It was a page hosted on the community site for the old Opera web browser (the original Opera, not its current incarnation). Back in those days, the early 2000s, I was heavily involved with Opera as a user, volunteer tester, and a member of the official ambassador group that was tasked with increasing usage of the browser in the United States. I used my page on the Opera Community site to post pictures and blog about topics ranging from tech to writing to regular old day-to-day life here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

My first actual website was shared with my late friend and writing/editing partner David B. Silva, and it was called, appropriately enough, olsonandsilva.com. We launched the site in 2005 as a way to promote our joint and individual projects. It was also intended to be a personal blog for both of us. Dave, always shy and intensely private, was never much of a blogger. Getting him to post anything at all was a herculean task. But I happily took up the slack and blogged almost every day for the first few months, then several times a week after that.

Eventually, I launched my own site — the first incarnation of paulfolson.com — and for a long time continued the blogging tradition I had established at olsonandsilva. I wasn’t doing much writing about tech anymore, but I continued to post about most of my other regular topics, which at that time included horror and writing in general, creativity, good books I had read and was eager to recommend, fountain pens and ink, or whatever else happened to be on my mind. As time went by, however, my blogging efforts tapered off. Life had gotten crazy and I had grown a bit weary of the website. I also felt I had nothing much left for post fodder, having said just about everything I cared to say about every subject I cared to write about. In addition, the social media scene had exploded by that time and it felt as if no one paid attention to personal websites or blogs anymore. I noticed fewer and fewer blogs being updated. Some of the feeds in my RSS reader began to return error messages instead of new posts. I even stumbled across a few discussions on Facebook where authors were debating the wisdom of having a personal website at all. More and more it seemed that most of the communication tools I had always relied on — specifically, websites, blog posts, and e-mail — had become, or were well on their way to becoming, obsolete. The pundits said that no one had the attention span to read lengthy content on the Internet anymore. It was the era of emojis. It was the age of tl;dr. I was advised to spend more time on Facebook and Twitter instead. I was advised to jump aboard Instagram and Snapchat. I was advised to start a podcast.

For a while, I was relieved not to have to blog anymore, but like so many things in life, absence made the heart grow fonder. After three or four years of no blogging, I realized that I actually missed it. There’s a beauty and a sense of satisfaction to this freeform, longform type of communication that I’ve never felt on Facebook, where it always feels like the content is controlling me rather than the other way around. Plus here I never have to worry about data-mining, fake news, trolls, Russian bots, rigged elections, fights and feuds and meltdowns, or any of the other things that make social media the digital equivalent of a skull-splitting migraine.

So I’m ready to try this again. It’s going to be slow and tentative at first. New posts won’t be appearing daily. They may not even be appearing weekly. But they will appear. I’ve been told that my timing is good, that author blogs are making a comeback. I’ve also been told that blogs are pointless and that no one will ever read anything I post here. The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in between. I’m ready to find out, and if you feel like joining me, I’d be happy to have you along for the ride.

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