Personal · Web

Rediscovering Moblog

It is one of the ironies of my life, that for someone who spends a fair amount of it “online” (in various capacities), I have generally been pretty hopeless at preserving my Web “output”.

For instance, I have had a Web presence of some kind, somewhere, pretty much ever since 1995, in the days when sites tended to be hand-coded in Windows Notepad (or equivalent). However—for better or worse—I have very little content in what passes for my archive, from that time; similarly, for various reasons, very little survives from the blogs I have written since about 2001, previous to about 2009 (when I joined WordPress). Call it laziness, omission, bad fortune or whatever, but by my own admission, I’m far from being the world’s greatest archivist of my online life.

That said, there are a couple of corners of the Web where my “traces” have endured longer than normal, and one of the oldest can be seen on my pages at Moblog.

In the development of what we call Web 2.0, I don’t think Moblog have received the credit due to them, for the part they played in its evolution. By 2004, Moblog was already offering a service strikingly similar to what the likes of Tumblr and Flickr would be presenting as new and exciting a couple of years later.

On the surface, at least, the concept was simple: “Mobloggers” would take pictures of what they were doing (or seeing), and email the images with an accompanying title and short text to their own Moblog email address. The Moblog servers would then take the email and its contents, and create a “blog post” on the user’s page. Furthermore, users were encouraged to “follow” and comment on other Mobloggers’ submissions—all very “Web 2.0”, yet this pre-dated Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and the usual “poster-children” of that movement (for want of a better word).

In 2004, I found the whole Moblog concept quite new and exciting. My mobile phone at the time—a Motorola V500—was the first one I’d owned equipped with both a camera (albeit a primitive one—640×480, fuzzy, washed-out colours) and email capability, so it meant I could take photos and email them directly from the phone. I had to restrain myself a bit on that front, as back then the average GPRS data allowance from mobile phone networks was pretty measly (4Mb a month in my case!), and the V500 had no WiFi, but at least the VGA-resolution photos were small (under 100Kb each), which didn’t hurt.

Looking at my 2004 Moblog posts seven years later, it’s clear to me that for a time at least, I was quite an avid Moblogger (though the photos show just how poor the average mobile phone camera was, until at least 2007). I don’t recall why I suddenly stopped using the service, abruptly, in November 2004—the reason may have been technical (I remember email was distinctly “unstable” from that phone), personal (my daughter was born a couple of months later), or a combination—but my attention was diverted over time by other Web services (and life in general), and for a while I forgot all about Moblog.

Then, in 2009, I discovered that Pixelpipe—which allows users to “relay” photos, videos and audio to multiple online services at the same time—included Moblog as one of its “pipes” (i.e. supported services). In a nutshell, this meant I could post photos and comments to Moblog, at the same time as to Flickr, Yfrog and other sites—making it a “no-brainer” to reopen my connection with Moblog after five years.

Considering that I have been on Twitter “only” since 2008, Moblog probably counts as one of my longest-running Web presences (although I’ve been drip-feeding photos to my Flickr account since at least 2005), and certainly one of the few where I can still access my posts from nearly seven years ago.

I have thought about creating a backup of some kind, in my copious free time, in case Moblog ever disappears (though it has survived all this time), as I don’t think I have some of the earlier content anywhere else. Until then, you’re welcome to delve into the archives, and view some snippets of my 2004 life through a VGA lens…

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