Proto-blogs

· Weblog Concepts

Once upon a time, back before the e-commerce bubble, a few of the people trying to make artwork and literature on the Internet came together, originally through a shared interest in the Beat generation, and started a mailing list to go beyond the continuous ccing of each other in a long three-way conversation. Quickly the list grew as we invited other people we saw doing creative things with the web.
The list was called antiweb, not intended as a slap at the web, but as an homage to Nick Arnett’s essay The Internet and the Anti-Net in which he anticipated the commercial future of the net and argued that an underground noncommercial network should parallel the high-profile money-driven one.
Around ’96 or 97 a few in the group started an experiment called Posi-Web, intended as a daily (or close to) practice of posting writing and artwork drawn from the participant’s daily life. The main page for each Posi-web site was textually the same, giving the name of the project as a clickable link to the participant’s latest entry, and then listing the other participants, all over the globe.
Of course we soon figured out that keeping the membership lists in synch was a hassle, and some of us (such as me, for example) had trouble remembering or making time to post new content daily. When I formally stopped doing it, my name was supposed to be taken off the lists but most people never removed me.
It was also supposed to ephemeral and not precious but most participants tended to archive their past posts.
One interesting effect is that if you Google for my name the top link returned is for my old Posi-web page. This, I’m sure, is because of the web of mutual links, giving the impression that this page is the nexus for all things xian online.
The antiweb list still exists. It’s low traffic now (like any good 6b.-type “mature” mailing list), but we still critique each other’s work, ask for technical help, share job tips, and so on. Just today another listmember was reminiscing about posi-web and how it seemed to anticipate some of the features of a blog (daily or near daily posts, honest first-person observation), if not others (the annotated bookmark aspect, the punditry).