I realised the other day that early this month marked the tenth anniversary of this blog. The quietude with which this anniversary slipped past belies the sizeable impact that blogging has actually had on my life. I began writing this blog at a time when the social web was really kicking off. At the time I was working for one of the large media owners in the UK and had already been involved with the digital side of that business for around seven years. Back then everyone was talking about this thing that had come to be known as 'Web 2.0' (a term which seems tragically quaint now). I was part of a team working on a new digital media product and we were trying to better understand how we might apply some of the thinking that underpinned the burgeoning social web. And so, in an attempt to find out more about what this blogging thing was all about, I started a blog.
This act began a chain of events that would ultimately change my life. When I began writing, I found that I enjoyed the process and wrote more. I connected with other blogs that I discovered (we used to have blogrolls back then). People started posting comments on the posts that I put up. And I realised that there were whole communities of fascinating people writing about the amazing or funny things that they had discovered on the web, or ranting about the ills of their industry, or posting the kind of wonderfully insightful opinion pieces that you just couldn't read anywhere else. There was discussion, banter, creativity. There was real community.
But blogging also taught me useful things. It taught me how to put ideas out there, even if they weren't fully formed. It taught me about the value of continuous feedback. It taught me about the value of surrounding yourself with people smarter than you. It taught me how to write. Looking back, I recall that some people I worked with at the time were a bit snobby about what I was doing. They couldn't see the point. They semi-joked about the amount of time I must spend blogging instead of working (without realising that most of my writing was done outside of work on the train home or in the evenings).
But I kept going because I was starting to find it immensely rewarding in other ways. I found that blogging helped me to think aloud, and make sense of the rapidly changing environment in which I found myself. It enabled me to explore new ideas. It helped me form new strands of thinking, some of which expanded, adapted, and took on a life of their own. Through blogging I made countless real-life connections. I think many of those early blogging cynics missed the point that one of the most wonderful things you get from it is the opportunity to get to know and then often meet some of the most inspiring and amazing people. There were meet ups, coffee-mornings, informal gatherings of all kinds. Many of those early blogs that I used to love reading so much are now sadly gone. Much of the discussion that used to happen in comment sections has now moved to Twitter and other places. But there's never been more access to such a quantity of great writing as now, and I'm fortunate in that many of the people I met back then have been my friends for the best part of a decade. Ultimately, writing a blog set me on a different course that would result in me leaving corporate world and doing my own thing.
Ten years, and almost 2000 posts later and I'm still writing. The photo of me on my biog page is taken by Mario Cacciottolo who I met via this blog and who at the time was running a lovely side project called Someone Once Told Me. He's taken pictures of thousands of people around the world, each revealing something that they've been told or have read that has been important to them. Mine is this quote, from the famous Creative Director Paul Arden:
'Do not covet your ideas. Give away all you know and more will come back to you.'
It was, and still is, one of my favourite quotes. It seems to capture the philosophy that has underpinned this place and from which I've derived so much value.
Writing this blog has impacted my life in a multitude of important ways. It has enabled me to have amazing experiences. Without it I don't think I would ever have been able to start my own business, and continue it for over seven years in the way that I have. Without it I don't believe that I would ever have arrived at the point where my first book is about to be published. Without it, I know that I would be much the poorer for not meeting the wonderful people that it has brought me into contact with. As is so often the way, the benefit of doing it has come in multiple indirect ways but it's no exaggeration to say that for me, blogging has been life-changing.
So that's what this little corner of the web has done for me. And as long as I still enjoy the process and get value out of it I'll still write it. My thanks to all of you for reading and contributing.