April 23, 2005
The Man who Ivnented Sex
Ok, Richard Sexton's site really isn't a blog, but it could have been. You might not know who Richard Sexton is, but if you were around at in the days when Usenet exploded then you were probably a degree or two of separation away from him. Either that or he was flaming the pants off of you.
It is interesting to see how things have changed since then. At that time the limitations of bandwidth were a very real thing and there were constant arguments about sending binaries, now most take the ability to view images as so common that it is not even worth mentioning. And in this ascii-art world, usenet was king. One has to say that usenet still exists and perhaps even thrives, but most new computer users have no idea what NNTP is or how to access it. Someday the same will be said of RSS. You might be saying that of RSS even now. But to get back to the story, Richard always seems to be around for the beginning of things. Godwin's law is an example and the creation of alt.sex newsgroups is another. But somehow Richard never seems to capitalize on these early positions.
I point out his website as an example of this. It is not visible from the surface, but it is really created using some code which Richard put together himself (most likely using C rather than some toy language like PERL) and which enables on-line editing and publishing. But, of course, no one - or at least few - are using it. Rather they are using things like MovableType and WordPress or skipping the installation altogether and simply opening an account at Typepad or one of the countless other options.
The reason why can be traced back to the early days. Back then you just needed a place to store stuff. An FTP server and later a web page. If you wanted conversation or commentary you would go to usenet or set up a mailserve. So when Richard put this thing together he was thinking more about an online library rather than something which would allow conversations, note-taking, linking and the like - and all of that on the fly. A library is fine if you put the books away on the shelves, but for those of us who love to read and have books on the floor, on the nightstand, under the bed and tucked into pockets, the library concept is just too high maintenance. It will never be complete and will look like hell in the process. This is the state of Richard's site. Richard Sexton, the man who invented the blog.