Mihai's page

A personal history of blogging

This is not my first blog. Not even the second. In fact, I had a blog (more or less), for nearly half of my life.

I created my first blog when I turned 18, on the now defunct Yahoo 360 after following a prompt on the automated email Yahoo sent to me. I didn’t post much at the time – I was just experimenting and learning. Plus, there was not much time to do blogging, I needed to prepare for the exam at the end of high-school and prepare for applying for University.

The real blog, the one where I posted the most, is the WordPress one which I started in 2007 at the same time as I was going to college for my undergrad. I started it to document the life of a student at University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest. I joined the Romanian blogging community, but not to the point of going to bloggers-only real-life events. Most relevant articles touched activities in ROSEdu – a community which I joined during my first year of undergrad.

Slowly, the articles diversified. Thus, the blog got split it into two components: the splinter blog was only for coding and programming articles and the main one for personal life and short essays about politics, AI, research.

It is time to mention that I intentionally did not link to these 3 blogs. The Yahoo 360 one is unfindable, all content got deleted and I haven’t saved it – at the time I thought there was nothing worth saving. The WordPress blogs still exist, but I turned them private. There are some articles that are no longer true/relevant, some are too cringe. I might resurface some of the more interesting ones, bringing them up to date.

The main reason why the WordPress blogs stopped was that I felt I lacked control over the formatting of code samples. I tried various themes, I tried several tools – including writing the code in Vim and then using :TOhtml on selected lines. I felt that something was lacking in each approach.

Around 2011-2013 the frequency of posts on WordPress dropped as social media activity increased. It was much easier to post something short on Facebook and Twitter than to write something longer on WordPress. I also started looking at creating a new website which will both host a blog and some dynamic content. As I was using Haskell, I started experimenting with Yesod, giving a few talks on it to Romanian Tech communities (among which one was my first talk at Softbinator, at the start of the journey of being involved into this community).

While designing the Yesod based blog, ROSEdu started a technical blog. First, it was using Jekyll, but an update of some library caused the generator to no longer run properly. So, I migrated the blog to a Hakyll-based solution.

Unfortunately, Techblog didn’t survive the passing of the years and now no one writes on it anymore. But it has helped me in finding out that a better design for my blog would be to use a static-site approach. There were too few usecases that required dynamic features and a database in backend.

Fast forward nearly 10 years, over multiple restarts, redesigns and times of not working on it at all. At the end of 2022, it became evident that hosting content on social media is equivalent to throwing it at a black-hole: it will be there, visible for a while, but after that it will vanish. Social media content is not easy to search, not easy to reference and also at the whim of the social media owner. Hence, I did one final push to create this. And, to motivate myself, I published this blog in a very draft stage. The goal is to publish an article with each new update, until I get to the point where it can be fully launched.


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