Tuesday, August 24, 2004

AOL, Blogger, and the Whole Wide World

I started blogging officially with an AOL blog: Cyber Chocolate. I had a Live Journal blog before that but I didn't know what it was. I started it because a friend was on. I couldn't figure the darned thing out. Months later, I learned about blogs and that AOL had them. Cyber Chocolate was born, followed by my first version of my writing blog, Presto Speaks! I had deleted my first LJ blog, so made a mirror version of Presto Speaks! on LJ so I could use the Friends feature which I finally understood. And then I discovered BlogSpot.

This spring was a busy time. Along with learning DreamWeaver and rebuilding my website (formerly created with PrintShop--don't ask--and hosted on Tripod--now on a host called CCS), I was learning about blogs. I ran Google searches on subjects + blogs or subjects + journals. I found amazing things. And on each blog I read, I found links to other blogs. I just clicked my way through the spring and into summer. And I found some great blogs.

I started seriously blogging on AOL because it came with the service I was paying for. I didn't even know for the first three months of blogging that AOL journals wouldn't be a year old until the summer. Which explains, I guess, why I hadn't really heard of them before. If they were publicizing the new service, it was under my radar for 8 months.

I saw photoblogs and started one on AOL. I also got curious about other free blogging services and tried BlogSpot, Blog-City, and DiaryLand. Xanga didn't look like my thing. I recently tried Bravenet. I didn't really like any of them and couldn't figure out how to edit most of them. It took me months to figure out the features on LJ. I was ready to give up on BlogSpot. Then they upgraded the templates, improved the Help section, and I fell head over heels in love.

AOL likes to feature journals by its members. There's the Editors' Weekly Top 5 and featured blogs in special areas like computing, sports, TV, and so on. I've had my blogs considered, but not chosen. I was disappointed, especially since I didn't always see what was so special about the winners. I understood that they weren't going to pick blogs that didn't meet their family standards. But mine did that. So what? Was I not upbeat enough? Or was it because I wasn't overcoming some personal obstacle or playing my personal life out in front of the world? I don't know. But as I ventured more and more beyond AOL, creating a second, and now a third Blogger blog, I stopped caring about gaining recognition from AOL. It's all so subjective, anyway.

I consider it a real honor, more than being an Editor's Pick could ever be for me, when someone whose non-AOL journal I read and admire cites me and my blog in theirs, when they quote me as a source for something cool they're posting. Or when they add my journals and website, including my AOL journals, in their blog list on their blog. It means even with an AOL journal, my words are respected by folks not on AOL. I'm part of a larger community and it feels oh so good.

A line from David Letterman tonight, in reference to a news report about a finger found in a woman's salad at a restaurant, seems to be a perfect way to end this entry: "New York is a tough town. Even your appetizers give you the finger."

Despite the sweet name, you won't find sugar coating and cheerleading on this blog or any of my others. You will find a lot of honesty. And I hope you find what I have to say interesting.