5 years ago today …

by Stephen Tall on January 7, 2010

7th January, 2005, was the day I started blogging. It was all a bit different in my young days, of course. Initially, I blogged through my then website (stephentall.org.uk – now gone to meet its webmaster in heaven), which was a Prater Raines Foci site. Here’s what it looked like:

Homepage To be fair, it did everything that I wanted of it back in those days … Council news for my residents in Headington, opinion articles for me to let off steam, a campaigning photo gallery, online (well, PDF) Focus archive, topical polls, ‘contact me’ section, etc.

What it did lack was any genuine interactivity: there wasn’t a comments box, and so there was no online community for readers to take me to task for, or even agree with, what I’d said. I can’t quite remember when I joined the Lib Dem blogs aggregator, but think it took me a while to cotton on. I think the main way I got myself noticed, initially at any rate, was through self-nominating posts for the BritBlog, then hosted by Tim Worstall. That boosted my readership to the dizzy heights of up to 100 visitors, sometimes.

Taking up blogging was probably the moment I decided I didn’t want to aim to become an MP, at least not for a while longer. One of the first articles I wrote was – quite deliberately – an article calling on the Lib Dems to end our opposition to university tuition fees. Living as I do in a heavily student-populated constituency, Oxford East, there was no way I could have stood for the party having publicly expressed such a view: it was my subtle way of making clear I had no intention of being a Parliamentary candidate.

In truth it took a while for me to hit my blogging stride, to try and strike a balance between considered op-ed article and quick blog-snippets, and to find a journalistic style that works for me. Not saying I’ve got there yet, but I’ve definietly improved over the years.

Though one thing I definitely miss about old-school blogging was the time and space to think through an issue properly. In my first three months, I wrote about 40 articles. Today, that would be a low month’s score for me. That means I now cover a greater variety of stories, but I suspect sometimes with less consideration or precision than one might have been the case. And probably with a little less writer’s elan, too.

Anyway, the six months’ articles aren’t available anywhere online currently, so I’ve started rectifying that – January 2005’s archive is here … partly out of anal-completism, partly for (my) historical interest. A third-term for Labour, Jerry Springer: the musical, George Bush II, the British drinking culture, and quality journalism were all in my sights. Oh, and there was a neat spot of prophecy, too (if you exchange 2010 for 2009):

… whether he can sustain the gloss of novelty for long I doubt: Mr Brown’s reputation will become tarnished by the time of the 2009 election, which it is his destiny to lose.

You can find my first ever blog-post here.