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11 key moments in [Anglo-]Caribbean blog history

THE INTERNET ARCHIVE IS preserving copies of many early blog pages, but most bloggers are too busy posting to think about otherwise documenting what they're doing. The history of the blogosphere goes back barely a decade, but evolution has been rapid, and bloggers who were around just three or four years ago may already seem like patriarchs and matriarchs. Here's a stab at an outline of Caribbean blog history — with a strong bias towards the region's Anglophone territories, and many pivotal moments no doubt missing. (Also, frankly, heavily biased towards the small circle of regular bloggers from the south Caribbean who I'm acquainted with in person or online.) Please use the comments to fill in the “historical record” — and maybe this will be just the start of a more comprehensive blog history project.

25 August, 2001
: Jamaican Mad Bull‘s blog goes online — maybe not the first Caribbean blog, but certainly one of the very earliest in the region's Anglophone territories. (Anyone know of Caribbean bloggers who've been around longer? Please leave details in the comments.) His first post reports on a night out with his wife. Mad Bull becomes known for his irreverent musings on life in contemporary Jamaica — and his connoisseurship of the Caribbean's female beauties….

30 September, 2002: the West Indies Cricket Blog is launched by Ryan Naraine of caribbeancricket.com. It goes on to become the Anglophone Caribbean's most popular blog — yes, West Indians love their cricket. A link from Ryan usually means a major spike in hits.


8 October, 2002: one of the earliest references to blogging in the Caribbean's mainstream press appears in a Jamaica Observer article by Alex Dennis headlined “Hidden gems on the Web”, which recommends BlogSpot to prospective bloggers. About six months later — on 14 April, 2003 — the Trinidad Guardian runs a feature on Trini bloggers (not in the online archives) that leads to a temporary spike in hits.

19 December, 2003
: in the earliest known example of Caribbean liveblogging, Imran Khan's Guyana Blog covers a major fire in downtown Georgetown, Guyana. He even posts a diagram of the destroyed building to jog the memories of Guyanese readers outside the country.

14 January, 2005
: the first Caribbean blogger to make a point of writing consistently in a “non-standard” local dialect appears: Guyana Gyal, whose first post is addressed to “Guyanese homesick in Foreign”. Guyana Gyal will soon begin using her blog to appeal for help for Guyanese communities inundated by disastrous flooding along the country's low-lying Demerara coast.

21 February, 2005
: the Caribbean's first podcasting site, Caribbean Free Radio, posts its inaugural podcast: an interview with the Trinidadian rapso group 3Canal.

11 August, 2005
: the CariBlogrs webring is launched by Jamaican blogger fyrfli.

21 October, 2005: Caribbean Beat becomes the first magazine in the Anglophone Caribbean to launch an official blog. The Beat blog‘s first post? A link to Global Voices.

16 November, 2005: Trinidad and Tobago wins its last FIFA World Cup qualifying match; Trini bloggers provide live blog coverage of the match, broadcast audio commentary via Skype, and report on the massive, spontaneous victory celebrations in the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando — with more audio coverage the next day. The T&T mainstream media start to pay real attention to the blogging phenomenon — bloggers get quoted in the newspapers and invited to appear on TV.

27 November, 2005: the first known Caribbean bloggers meetup happens over dinner at a restaurant in Trinidad; oddly, only one of the five bloggers present actually blogs about it. Just over a month later a group of Jamaican bloggers organises the second known Caribbean bloggers meetup.

9 January, 2006: Global Voices recognises the Caribbean as a separate region to the rest of the Americas, and appoints its first Caribbean editor, Georgia Popplewell. Over at Americas editor David Sasaki's blog, a discussion starts up about how to define the Caribbean geographically. Caribbean bloggers leap into the fray….

28 comments

  • “As for the Caribbean part and Caribbean perspective – I’m glad both of you (Georgia, Nicholas) see it that way.”

    Remember, I’m the one talking about the cultural annexation of Brooklyn into the wider Caribbean–I’m an anti-insularist by conviction. As far as I’m concerned, a Caribbean idea is any idea in a Caribbean head, and a Caribbean perspective is any perspective through Caribbean eyes.

    Thanks for the further historical information–I’ll endeavour to keep track of all of this, in my [ahem!] Oso-appointed role as Caribbean blog chronicler….

    Nicholas Suetonius Tranquillus

  • I started my online journal (originally at diaryland.com) sometime in early 2001. The wayback machine has a few of theearly entries achived; the first one listed is dated July 2001, but it refers to previous posts, so it’s not the first one I ever made. I wish I could retrieve those old entries. I stopped posting there sometimes in 2002, when I moved to my own domain. When I started, I really had no idea what I was doing (or that I’d still be doing it 5 years later), it wasn’t really called blogging yet, and there was no concept of such a thing as a blogosphere. I’m still very ambivalent about being part of “the blogosphere”, although I can’t quite articulate why.

  • Thanks, Titilayo. (I did try to get in touch with you when I was compiling my list, via a comment on your blog–I don’t think I have a current email address for you.) The Wayback Machine has what’s clearly your first entry; it starts:

    “June 13, 2001 – 3:18 p.m.

    “Well this is my first on-line diary entry. I though it would be an interesting thing to try….”

    At some point when I have the time, I’ll incorporate all the info we’ve collected via these comments and post the “annals” somewhere where they’ll be both frequently updatable and permanently accessible.

  • Thanks, Nicholas! I hadn’t been able to find that elusive first entry before. The Wayback Machine is a wonderful (and embarrassing) thing! I also just found that my diaryland account is still active, and I’m working on exporting those old entries so that I can assemble a complete archive (offline!) of my blogging activity.

    Your comment never showed up on my blog, unfortunately. I think my spam blocker might have eaten it.

  • An idea for the Caribbean blog museum: everybody’s very first post…. Here’s mine:

    “Tuesday, October 15, 2002

    Dear reader,

    I’m just getting started here. Nothing much to see for the time being.

    Nicholas”

    Not very memorable–but unlike, say, a novel, which needs a brilliant opening line, it’s probably all right for a blog to start with a whimper, not a bang.

  • Here’s mine (from CFR):

    “We’re almost there. I’ve done a rough edit of the first podcast and now only await the magical input of my trusty editor, the Ool. Have also created a Station ID, which may or may not change. It’s rough and simple, but I think it suits what we’re trying to do here (about which, more later). Please also note that the Station ID was produced with the kind participation of Pretzel, the dog from next door, and the coqui frogs of Blue Range.”

    And Delphine’s:

    “Agreed to pose for a couple photos this morning, in exchange for getting to spend the day in the house.”

  • GMC

    Hi Folks,

    Thanks for the kind comments. Congratulations to you all as well. Excellent initiative.

    Just to add a little bit which I think is significant in some way is that the “Inexperience Rules” entry on Living Guyana has created quite a stir on the Guyana Press Association mailing list which has since resulted in a local journalist moving to form the Young Media Professionals of Guyana, a group which will focus specifically on training and generally on lifting the standards of local media.

    While the the GPA has endorsed the YMPG and has committed to assist and the YMPG has already committed to not sidelining the GPA it is significant in the sense that it would appear as though a simple entry, written in utter frustration with the rank mediocrity that prevails in Guyanese media has spawned the formation of a second national media association in Guyana.

    This is also a tacit recognition and acceptance of the fact that the GPA has been falling severely short with regard to training and motivating its membership. There is a prevailing sense of disillusionment with the GPA and the way it is administered. It should also be noted that the GPA executive complain bitterly than whenever they do organize training seminars editors and media managers refuse to send their staff for a half day because they cannot afford to do so given that most of the media houses in Guyana are 4 and 5 people operations (for television) and reflect the bottom house/cake shop nature of the business.

    Regards

  • I often forget to mention how big of a geek I actually am, but thankfully Taran brought it up. I am even thinking a of providing some sorta localised blogging service ala blogger. as soon as a figure out a name to call it and if its worth while.

  • Interesting conversation.

    Dunno how long Sungoddess’s been blogging…

  • Wow, so I’ve dropped to number three? Now I’ll have to change my domain name from madbull4. net to madbull3!

    Big up to Taran and to Titilayo for your longevity. Incidentally, Taran, it was Doc. Searls who gave me the idea for blogging by his article in the Linux Journal.

    The actual person who made me take the plunge was the person who used to write the Slutblog though. (Alas, her blog has gone the way of all flesh). Oh well, as Taran says, who cares whos first. Its whos here last that really counts ;-) (Note to self… you gotta get more exercise and chill pon the drinking thing, my yute… )

    Be careful on that “connoisseurship of the Caribbean’s female beauties” thing… my wife might read it and then I’d end up making my exit from the Caribbean blogosphere rather quickly and someone else would get to claim that all-important last position, dang it! >:-(

    I agree with Taran, big up Owen re the “roll your own blogging software” thing, I respect him greatly for that. Large up Guyana Gyal too, because she seems to be the first Caribbean blogger to be nominated for the Bloggies (Yeah, I know that Guyana is in Central America, but historically its Caribbean too, isn’t it?) Shes up for “Best Central American Blog”!

    Thanks for the link.

    Mad Bull has left the comment box…

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