What I learned from Om and Hossein
Sunday, March 27, 2016 by Dave Winer

Every so often I have to write a piece about why I blog. Not that blogging changes so  much, I don't think it does -- but the world around my blog is changing all the time. So the context in which blogging exists changes.

First, Om Malik published a piece yesterday about how to write a good blog post. As I read it I was reminded of a brief Twitter conversation I had the day before with Hossein Derakhshan, who started by saying "Social media have scattered our 'self'. Now they're doing that to #journalism. Era of unified, single website is over." 

These two people who I only know because they blog, are right -- but then I thought -- no I don't agree. And yes, it's something I've been struggling with, but for me the struggle is over. I write my blog not because I want to write a "good" blog post, or even one that's read by a lot of people. And my own self is not scattered, it's right here, and as long as I live it will continue to be here. And my online self doesn't exist for the benefit of others, it's here to help my real self develop his thinking and create a trail of ideas and feelings and experiences that I can look back on later. 

Having a body of online writing going back almost 22 years, I've benefitted from that, many times. For example, my memory told me that I was against the Iraq war right from the start. But that is contradicted by my blog. I had doubts, but I supported the President. I felt I had no choice. This has turned out to be an important consideration in this year's election. We'd all like to think we were against the war from the start, but the reality is most of us were not against it (which is different from being for it, Bernie). Recall the times and the fear we had about our own safety. Our President laid out a set of facts that turned out later to be lies. Yes, we were suspicious. But did we have a choice but to go with our leader? Most of us felt we had to support him. 

I think Hossein is right, for the short term, and wrong for the long term. There are too many technological and societal things happening for the current situation to stay unchanged much longer. Kids who have grown up in the last ten years have never known a world where they couldn't set up their own server. That would be like me, as a young kid, having my own radio station, which I did, even though it was hard to do and illegal! Because I felt compelled to broadcast. I loved communication tech as a kid. It was visceral. There must be kids like that today. Why should they respect what Hossein thinks is the indelible future? No one asked them! Remember what it's like to be coming of age and finding out the whole world had been carved up so that you had to fit in a very tight little box. Some of us didn't like that, and some rebelled against it. Well you may feel it's all over and the structure of the world has already been decided, but I can promise you one thing -- they don't. 

And I don't. I still get a thrill at putting up my own web service. I know it's right. And we haven't lost that ability yet. But it could happen. And that will just mean, imho, that it will take a bit longer for the next iteration to come about. And I promise you it won't have any respect for the rules of the previous iteration. That's just not how our species works.