Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

Ten years ago today — ten years! — Stating the Obvious ran an essay I wrote called “My Ass is a Weblog.”

If the name doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s because it’s a now-impossibly-obscure joke based on another now-impossibly-obscure joke. Alas, the actual contents of the piece have aged just about as well. Time is a brutal editor, and the past decade has rendered “My Ass is a Weblog” true in only one way: they’ve both gotten gigantic.

In the article, I claim that this new “weblog” nonsense, while useful in its niche, wasn’t deserving of all the hype that was being heaped on it. How could it be? People were claiming that weblogs — the word “blog” had been coined in early 1999, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it yet — would upend journalism, reach millions, bring people together, drive people apart, change the world. Blogs weren’t just a future, but the future. Blogs!, went the proponents. Blogs! Whatever that ultimately means!

Ha!, I spat. You naive, optimistic nincompoops. Ha.

Over the years, I’ve eaten my share of crow about “My Ass is a Weblog” — starting from its first anniversary — and all of it is justified. Out of everything I’ve ever written, this one essay is the most profoundly, spectacularly wrong — wrong in spirit as well as specifics. If anything, the most naive, optimistic nincompoops were too timid.

In fact, it’s how wrong “My Ass” is — and you can write your own joke here — that has given it life long past what it would have earned otherwise. Anybody remember my devastating takedown of WAP? No, of course not. Nobody’s writing books about the history of WAP. Nobody cares.

But blogs… Those of us who were wrong about blogs are cultural curiosities, the same way that those who cling to newspapers or the second Bush Administration are cultural curiosities — as oddballs and idiots who willingly stand on the wrong side of history. Heck, I’ve earned the title “dead horse” many, many times, but “My Ass is a Weblog” is the only reason that the Wall Street Journal called me one. Um, hooray? Yeah, sure: Hooray! You need some historical example of short-sighted, self-satisfied chimp? I’m your man.

Weblogs won, happily rolling over the petty doubts and even pettier cynicism of people like me, rolling over everything that could have kept them from becoming what they have become, both good and bad. Today, a decade on, I know countless people who have made their reputations from blogs, made their living from blogs, made their friendships from blogs, made their marriages from blogs. Blogs have figured into almost all our lives the way that schools and neighborhoods have, the way friends and coworkers have, the way good books and bad TV have. They’re integral to who we are, what we’ve become.

Blogs!, go the proponents, this time as valedictory. Blogs! Whatever that ultimately means!

And there’s a lesson in that. Passion won, enthusiasm won, being in the right place at the right time with the right tool won. World-changing won. I think that cynicism has a better record than anybody is willing to admit, but the people who created weblogs and the software that makes them go — and the list is too deep and too wide to even begin counting them here — won. And I’m glad for it.

My ass is a weblog, and somebody, somewhere, might want to hear what it has to say.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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