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Happy 15th Birthday to One Man & His Blog

15 years ago, most likely at his desk at Estates Gazette‘s then Wardour Street offices, a frustrated journalist opened Blogger in his web browser. He came up with a punny name, and started his second ever blog. His first blog, on Livejournal, felt restrictive. It was clearly a semi-closed, inwards-looking place, great for chatting with friends, less good for publishing – something that one of Livejournal’s users was to learn from when he launched his site TheFacebook the following year. To find a wider audience our frustrated property journalist had to venture out onto the open web. So he started typing.

And he never stopped. 15 years later, that same journalist is still writing on that self-same blog.

And, yes, of course that journalist is me, and that blog is One Man & His Blog, which turned 15 a little over an hour ago.

Sure, I’ve changed url (from adam.tinworth.name to onemanandhisblog.com) and platform (twice – from Blogger to Movable Type and then to WordPress). But this blog remains the biggest corpus of work I’ve ever created, and by far the majority of my writing that’s available on the open web is stored here.

80 Stone Coffee

Today, I’m not sat in a corporate office, but in a small artisan coffee shop near Elephant & Castle, on my way to an afternoon of lecturing and workshops with students. It’s faintly terrifying to think that the majority of the students I’ll be working with today were in primary school when I started this blog, and some of them were in the very early years.

Last blogger standing?

At the point, I suspect that OM&HB is one of the oldest continually published journalism-centric blogs in the world. So many of my compeers have dropped the form, or been sucked into the journalism mainstream, which consumes all their energy for writing. Others have been seduced by the platform publishing game, and are publishing into Facebook or Medium where once they would have been in their own space.

I’m not going to do that. Not only are we right in the midst of learning of the dangers of giving your entire publication over to the platforms, but I also owe this site two major changes in my career. Back in 2006, it was the springboard that allowed me to move into editorial development at RBI, and then, 6 years later, the reputation that I’d accrued through writing here let me become self-employed, and earn a good living for the past six years, while freeing up more time to spend with my daughters.

Who knows where it will lead next?

Blogging away

I’m completely sure that my early-30s self had no idea where that simple act of starting a new blog would take him a decade and a half ago, but it was one of the best decisions in my life. (2003 was a good year for decision-making – I also married my wife that year, too, only a few months after I launched this site.)

So much of what I do I couldn’t image then. This blog pre-dates the iPhone and the iPad – where a substantial chunk of my blogging is done. It pre-dates Facebook and Twitter. Hell, it pre-dates WordPress.

That’s the joy of it, though. The world of publishing has seen unprecedented change in that 15 yers – and the pace shows no signs of letting up. There’s still plenty I want to write about and do. And I want to do it here, on my online home. The word “homepage” has fallen out of vogue on the internet, but that really is what One Man & His Blog is – my homepage on the internet.

Thank you to every one of the people who have visited, and a particular thank you to those of you who continue to race it regularly, be it via e-mail, RSS or Facebook. I value your time, you feedback and even your criticism.

15 years ago, I started with the belief that blogging could be a conversation. Despite everything, in 2018, that can still be true. Blog on!

Lead image by Tomas Anton Escobar on Unsplash

Typed, a crowdfunded blog platform, closes down today

It’s not often in blogging you get to see a story come to a definitive end, but today I do.

Waaaay back in 2015 – almost exactly three years ago – I backed a crowdfunder for a new blogging platform from Realmac Software in Brighton.

Today that platform dies.

Typed is closing.

It seems to have struggled from early on. It was available in beta by that May, and I quite liked what I saw. But development seemed to stall, and their own blog suddenly stopped publishing in February 2016. The opening sentence of the post was not encouraging:

February was a terrible month.

Only one further post was published on that blog – in December 2016. Ironically, the last words published on the blog were:

We’re in this for the long haul.
Happy Typing.

That was it for the blog. And then the support forum abruptly disappeared with no word. Alarm bells started to ring.

In April of 2017, a death was announced, because it was obvious that Realmac weren’t getting enough revenue from the platform, and saw no way towards having it:

For the last 8+ months, Typed.com has been running at a loss. I’ve tried hard to make Typed.com viable, it’s a great platform and I still believe in it. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to cost.

I didn’t notice for a few months. But then, the post was buried in a forum for an entirely different piece of software. Realmac did not handle this well. Rewards backers paid for like stickers and t-shirts were never delivered. Communication to those backers — many of whom paid for life memberships — dried up. As the platform struggled, the team seemed to lose interest in it and – rather unforgivably – in those people who had paid to get it going.

I won’t beat about the bush: I’m disappointed by Realmac. They’re a local company to me, whose software I’ve tried to support. I even appeared in an advert for them. My disappointment isn’t in the failure of the platform: that was always a risk. It’s on how very badly they mishandled the communications to the users and backers.

Finally, the end of this sorry tale has come. Any time now, the servers go down, and that’s the end of Typed.

The crowdfunder’s regret?

Do I regret backing it? No. The blogging world still needs innovation. I’ve backed two crowdfunded blog platforms, and one microblogging platform. Typed might be dying, but Ghost is still going strong. It hit 1.0 last summer, and has continued to develop since.

Innovation involves risk. One paid off. One didn’t. That’s OK – things move on. micro.blog, the microblogging service I backed, is a whole bunch of fun, and I’m having some great conversations there, and doing some fun blogging.

RIP Typed. You were a nice idea that never really got traction.

Is Medium aiming to be the Facebook of long-form writing?

Stowe Boyd has some serious questions about the future of Medium:

And what about Medium? Are we better off because of Medium’s mechanisms to suggest to us what to read, or would we be better off with thousands of independent curators and publishers, or the basic social affordance of following the best writers, directly?

My fear is that Medium will fall pray to the lowest common denominator attention merchants in the same way every other centralising platform does.

And that would be a shame.

Blogs are digital thought spaces

Om Malik:

When relaxing in the sun this past weekend, I realized that my original blog was my thought space, and that is why it resonated with my community. Among all the blogs I continue to follow — Dave Winer, John Gruber, Bob Lefsetz, Koi Vinh, and Jason Kottke, for example — they are all what I think of as thought spaces. Original posts, links, and opinions are essentially a reflection-on how they view the world and how they are thinking.

Still true for me after nearly 15 years writing here.