The following Mexican-centered history of weblogs was first published as a three part series on RegioBlogs by contributor, Dr. Alan Flores. It was translated by Andres Hardrada and David Sasaki and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
From last week's Monterrey Bloggers’ reunion at Cafe Paraiso
The social and cultural impact of weblogs on how we communicate cannot be denied. Everyday, everywhere in the world, without leaving Mexico, you can find more of them. And as they grow, so do the topics they cover and formats they use. But did you ever wonder how and when this “boom” started? Have weblogs always existed as such? What was their precursor?
Wikipedia helps us and mentions what could have been the first weblog in Spanish: “April 1999, Barrapunto.com is born, a weblog related to free software that offers a logbook system denominated MiBarrapunto (in 2001) and later on moved to the logbook of Barrapunto (2003)…”
We asked our friends here in Monterrey to speak to us about it. Moises Kirsch author of Moiblog and also owner of the business Subjetivo.com commented:
One of the first weblogs that has been recognized today was the novelty section of the NCSA Mosaic page (which was bought by Microsoft to become Internet Explorer). Personaly, to me, weblogs started with Kottke.org and Zeldman.com. These two were the firsts I began to follow constantly and from that moment on I became aware of many more.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Dominguez author of OchoCuartos, which has been functioning since october 2004, chimes in: “Personally, I remember many sites that now can be qualified as blogs and had been online for a while like Slashdots, Shinga, Shack, Blues News or those the programmers published to keep the hungry followers of their games informed.”
Who did not use Geocities at some point? Who did not have it's personal page with this platform? Our friends Moises and Eduardo confess to having their webpage on it. (By the way, as a curiosity, none of them remember the URL of their old site) Moises mentions”…The first reference of a blog in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, to be honest, was my own where I updated sort of constantly with news and commentaries. It began on Geocities, later became Moiseskirsch.com, then moi.kirsch.com.mx, and finally ended up to become what you can see today in moiblog.com…”
Eduardo tells us, “compared to what we have today, my Geocities site just stayed afloat, though it could be said that it was good as long it lasted…” We could probably call such sites the beggining for many bloggers or blogging itself. The intention was probably tha same; we put personal stuff on these pages, family albums, etc.
Perhaps we were always bloggers, but we just gave it a different name. We always had the same goals though the publication platform varied. The evolution is interesting as are the changes that have taken place and will continue to take place.
I agree with Eduardo's comment: “many people have weblogs; they just don't know they do. For them it's just a “website”, their “myspace” or their “MSN Spaces.”
Bitacoras, Blogsmexico, Veneblogs, MTYBlogs – just to name a few – have arisen from the same necessity. First to meet and get to know others like you: “I'm a blogger, but who else is like me?” Then you want to know how many are in your city, state, or country. And from there, bloggers begin to organize themselves in thematic categories.
The growth has been incredible. Services that offer you free blog hosting, exemplary tutorials, new templates, and more. The growth of users is just as incredible. Veneblogs, today, has 2,220 registered Venezuelan blogs. Blogsmexico claims 4,265 weblogs, Bitacoras has 141,705, and the recently resurrected MTYBlogs now has 66 users.
But how did it occur to developers to start these communities? Have they always grouped bloggers like they do today?
Raúl who writes at Isopixel and is in charge of Blogsmexico, tells us some interesting facts:
Blogs México was born on April 20, 2004 – so it will soon turn two years old. It came out of some talks we had at the first couple blogger meetups in Mexico City, which were just three or four of us. It was hard to believe that there were so few of us and we would try to guess the amount of Mexican bloggers scattered around. The most adventurous guess was 500, so you can imagine our surprise when we surpassed that number in the very first days of the directory.
Time passed and my interest in blogs kept increasing. I tried to understand the phenomenon in any way I could, including wanting to do my master's thesis on blogs, which gave me the push to find reliable numbers related to the growth of weblogs.
I met Afrael, who wrote the code for Veneblogs, which Blogs México also runs on. I asked his permission to adopt all of the source code to make Blogs México and the rest is history.
Seyd Rios, who started MTYBlogs, tells us his story:
I bought the domain, MTYBlogs.com in July of 2003 and began the directory and the community weblog around this time. More than anything else, the idea arose from the need of feeling connected to Monterrey while living abroad. In July of 2003 I already had offline a small collection of links to blogs from Monterrey, so really it was just a question of putting them online. I felt the need to make it public because I figured that there were plenty of other Mexicans from Monterrey, like myself, who felt the need to be connected to their city via this “new medium” of blogging.
I think physical distance was the greatest obstacle with MTYBlogs.com because it was impossible for me to attend the reunions and make tighter bonds with the bloggers to strengthen the website. There were two or three well-recognized bloggers in Monterrey's blogosphere and I think it didn't seem to them that someone living outside of the city should initiate the project. But fortunately, their influence wasn't as great as that of the local blogosphere who wanted a directory and everything turned out well.
Monterrey's blogosphere began the day that the first “Regio” (someone from Monterrey) started a weblog and that would be impossible to estimate. I think though that there have been so-called “Alpha Geeks” in Monterrey that have been blogging since the 90's, but the phenomenon arrived to the general population probably in 2001 or 2002.
I have been blogging since before the term blog was coined. In 1999 I kept a site on geocities with a section called “my diary,” which I edited manually. Later I joined the burgeoning blogger movement and started my blog with Blogspot/Blogger, later migrated from Greymatter to Movable Type and now I use WordPress.
In my point of view, blog communities are necessary, but not obligatory. They bring about a sense of belonging and a certain manner of etiquette among the group.