I started my journey in digital technology during my early teens. I was so impressed by the technology behind the internet and the maths beneath that. I had a thing with Maths since childhood and everything related to that fascinated me. In 6th grade, my teacher showed me the first computer circa 1986 and was love at first sight. This Acer was my door to the amazing world of programming.

computer circa 1986

A few years later, on August 6, 1991, Berners-Lee published the world’s first website from a lab in the Swiss Alps. (See: History of Computers). It was dedicated to information on the World Wide Web project. It ran on a NeXT computer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN.

The first website ever was a page explaining the World Wide Web project and how users could set up a web server to create their websites and web pages. It was a static page, meaning that users were not able to interact with the content, they could only browse it.

It was then where I first asked how can a person create a website. And my life had a purpose: To learn how to create websites like that.

I tell you it wasn’s an easy task! By the age of 17, I could create simple websites for my school projects. Black screens, endless “commands” for simple steps and all you could have was something like this:

David Filo and Jerry Yang created Yahoo in 1995. It had only a simple list of links. But for early internet users, it was a guide to the open web and all new websites wanted to be featured on it.

Do you remember how Google looked the first days it launched back in 1998? It was like this:

The Blogging World

The years past by and blogs started to appear with a different name at the time. While the term “blog” was not used until the late 1990s, the history of blogging started with several digital precursors to it.

Before “blogging” became popular, digital communities took many forms, including Usenet, commercial online services such as GEnie, BiX and the early CompuServe, e-mail lists[ and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

In the 1990s, Internet forum software, such as WebEx, created running conversations with “threads”. Threads are topical connections between messages on a metaphorical “corkboard”. Some have likened blogging to the Mass-Observation project of the mid-20th century. Source: Wikipedia

After a slow start, blogging rapidly gained in popularity. Blog usage spread during 1999 and the years following, being further popularized by the near-simultaneous arrival of the first hosted blog tools:

  • Open Diary launched in October 1998, soon growing to thousands of online diaries. Open Diary innovated the reader comment, becoming the first blog community where readers could add comments to other writers’ blog entries.
  • SlashDot, a still-popular blog for tech “nerds” launched in September 1997.
  • Brad Fitzpatrick, a well-known blogger started LiveJournal in March 1999.
  • Andrew Smales created Pitas.com in July 1999 as an easier alternative to maintaining a “news page” on a website, followed by DiaryLand in September 1999, focusing more on a personal diary community.[
  • Drew Peloso and Steven Hatch launched Onclave in late 1999, a blogging and syndication platform scripted in Dave Winer’s Frontier.
  • Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan (Pyra Labs) launched blogger.com in August 1999 (purchased by Google in February 2003)

Blogging combined the personal web page with tools to make linking to other pages easier — specifically permalinks, blogrolls and TrackBacks. This, together with weblog search engines enabled bloggers to track the threads that connected them to others with similar interests. Source: Wikipedia

The blog was independently invented by Ian Ring, in 1997. His online journal program was never called a “blog” and had very limited functionality, consisting of blobs of text associated with dates in an Access database.

Ring experimented again with data-powered journalling in 2002, to provide a CMS for the popular health and wellness site SeekWellness.com, publishing weekly posts by fitness columnist Donald Ardell. Ring likes to claim that he “invented the blog”, which is technically true even though there were other projects that could make the same claim with greater authority.

Another early example of an early online entry into the evolution of blogging was created by Dave Winer. Winer is considered a pioneer of Web syndication techniques and has been considered one of the “fathers” of blogging.

As the editor of Scripting News claims that his site “bootstrapped the blogging revolution and that it is the longest running Web Log on the internet.” Winer did not use the term “blog” and has never claimed the term. However he has gone on record as saying that “The first blogs were inspired by this blog, in fact, many of them, including Barger’s Robot Wisdom, used my software.”

Websites, including both corporate sites and personal homepages, had and still often have “What’s New” or “News” sections, often on the index page and sorted by date.

One example of a news-based “weblog” is the Drudge Report founded by the self-styled maverick reporter Matt Drudge, though apparently, Drudge dislikes this classification. Two others—Institute for Public Accuracy and Arts & Letters Daily—began posting news releases featuring several news-pegged one-paragraph quotes several times a week beginning in 1998. One noteworthy early precursor to a blog was the tongue-in-cheek personal website that was frequently updated by Usenet legend Kibo.

Early weblogs were simply manually updated components of common websites. However, the evolution of tools to facilitate the production and maintenance of web articles posted in reverse chronological order made the publishing process feasible to a much larger, less technical, population.

Ultimately, this resulted in the distinct class of online publishing that produces blogs we recognize today. For instance, the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of “blogging”.

Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using, such as WordPress, Movable Type,  Blogger  or LiveJournal, or on regular web hosting services. Source: Wikipedia

How Blogging Made me a Better Listener

WordPress & Blogging

WordPress.org was released on May 27, 2003, by its founders, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, as a fork of b2/cafelog. The software is released under the GPLv2 (or later) license.

WordPress.com (WordPress) is a blogging platform that is owned and hosted online by Automattic. It is run on a modified version of WordPress (WordPress.org), an open source piece of software used by bloggers. This website provides free blog hosting for registered users and is financially supported via paid upgrades, “VIP” services and advertising.

The site opened to beta testers on August 8, 2005, and opened to the public on November 21, 2005. It was initially launched as an invitation-only service, although at one stage, accounts were also available to users of the Flock web browser. As of February 2017, over 77 million new posts and 42.7 million new comments are published monthly on the service.

Registration is not required to read or comment on blogs hosted on the site, except if chosen by the blog owner. Registration is required to own, or post in, a weblog. All the basic and original features of the site are free-to-use.

However, some features are not available in the free plan: install PHP plugins, customize theme CSS, write JavaScript, domain mapping, domain registration, removal of ads, website redirection, video upload, storage upgrades…etc

Some notable clients include  CNN,  CBS,  BBC,  Reuters,  Sony,  Fortune.com, and Volkswagen. It is estimated that more than 30% of internet bloggers use WordPress as their publishing platform. In September 2010, it was announced that Windows Live Spaces,  Microsoft’s blogging service, would close and that Microsoft would partner with WordPress.com for blogging services. Source: Wikipedia

Going Through The Blogging History

Now you may wonder why do we have to go through the Blogging History. To make a clear statement that blogging didn’t just happen one random day in the past. It was a slow evolutionary process that grew with all of us: the dedicated practitioners of blogging and website designers.

We are trained to listen to the emerging needs of internet users. At some point having a website just wasn’t enough, especially for journalists and creative minds out there.

Back in the day, users wanted to share their personal stories and opinions, outside the firm environment of a website. Also, most people had zero technology education and running a website wasn’t an easy thing, like today. Digital technology nerds and developers worked their magic, and month after month, blogging found a way to stand out as a separate stream of interest.

1998 marks the first known instance of a blog on a traditional news site, when Jonathan Dube blogged Hurricane Bonnie for The Charlotte Observer.

How Blogging Made me a Better Listener by Areti Vassou

Into Blogging Culture Since 1994

My first business website was on air in 1994 and my very first blog post was three lines long and took me a year to create the code in order to publish it. Can you believe that?

From 1994 until 1998 I spend countless hours to master this “weblog” process. Sometime around 1996, Flash come into our lives and on the Internet. With Flash technology, we could include easy animations of images into websites. That made the content more appealing!

Around the same time, we were introduced to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and for a while, the design was easier. Later, Web Content Editors made our work friendlier. These HTML formatting tools allowed text customization – from turning it to bold, italic or underlined, to various alignments, or the possibility to add media and so on without writing HTML code.

And then a small miracle happened! On August 23, 1999, Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs. As one of the earliest dedicated blog-publishing tools, it is credited for helping popularize the format. In February 2003, Pyra Labs was acquired by Google. Blogging became easy peasy!

Persistence and Patience

After almost 20 years of blogging, I have learned to be persistent and extremely patient. That has transformed me into a skillful and pleasant listener. I can hear a 2 hours story without any interruptions and keep my questions alive and ready to shoot when my turn comes to talk. Blogging has many benefits!

Besides that, running a personal blog (not for clients) is keeping you in the loop of technology. Without much hesitation, I can say that thanks to my blog I have met a lot of interesting people. Also, deep research has become my side project and nature!

It has given me the opportunity to enjoy many interviews, close strong deals with clients, and medium to large business owners. Blogging has become an incredible source of search engine traffic and exposure for my skills as an SEO Expert, Content Creator and Digital Marketing Strategist.

I have learned that it doesn’t need any magical powers to express yourself in public. All you have to do is to be brave, be open, be polite, and speak up. The act of writing transforms the way you see life and the people around you. You speak less and observe more.

Blogging makes you a better person

While you focus on research and writing, gradually you develop a depth of expertise and knowledge that tends to solve problems in a more smooth manner. For example, having studied almost everything about MRI software for a client’s website & blog, literally helped me to deal with a serious health issue for one member of my family.

It may sound a bit odd but blogging has elevated my conversation topics, communication skills and public speaking performances. You can easily say that I am not a “small talk” individual. Between strangers and hello moments, now I can effortlessly start a pleasant conversation with different topics that don’t include weather. In other words, you can respond with confidence under all circumstances.

Furthermore, you never jump to conclusions if you haven’t seen all the facts and aspects of a story or event or rumor or information. First, you double-check and then you write+publish something. That has proven to be one of the top benefits of blogging. Stay out of the emergency alert and use your brain before you express an opinion. Is an asset to stay calm, and respond as a thinking human being!

Strong Conversation Skills

When I engage in conversations, I actively hear all levels of the conversation: verbal & non-verbal. Listening carefully to other people can provide you with countless blogging ideas to write about. In some cases, keeping notes after an interesting conversation could help you create outstanding content. Blogging has helped me to master the art of conversation and listening. Has taught me to ask meaningful questions and gain laser focus!

Discipline and organization are two unexpected “side effects” of blogging. You learn to follow your own rules and schedule. Specifically, daily writing keeps you “fit in creativity” and that’s a huge asset in the business world of content creation and marketing. Even if I don’t have a deadline for a client’s project, I write for 4 hours every day. By putting yourself in a certain flow of work, you manage to stay productive all year long.

Blogging on-demand or for your pleasure could provide you with a rich library of topics, ready-to-use themes, good to go strategy plans and an SEO think tank. At the moment I could publish fresh content for the next 2 years without writing a new single world. Yes, there are 730 available posts waiting to be published! When I have free time, I write… And that makes me a healthy and active writer.

In the public speaking area, blogging has become my personal coach. When you practice again and again on specific topics you feel comfortable enough to speak in front of an audience. The points of your presentations or lectures are established in your subconscious. Even without the printed text in your hands, you can actually communicate with the auditorium. “Be ready” mode becomes a standard principle and way of living. Guess what? Anxiety becomes a long-gone memory!

Blogging additionally has helped me in selling my skills and services without selling them. Giving free and valuable information to your target market, makes the market come to you. It is true, that clients know what is best for them and who is the best fit for what they need. Never underestimate a client’s IQ and EQ.

Blogging Breaks the Ice

Blogging breaks the ice twice as fast as sharing a beer. In international conferences where people know only your digital persona when they put a real face on your name, they tend to open up within seconds. Usually starts with: “So you are the one who wrote about….” and that works like a charm! Networking becomes a piece of cake.

Life is never boring when you are an active blogger. You focus on learning and studying continuously. Yes, you are daily engaged in digital technology trends, social media practices, SEO updates, general knowledge, news, books, surveys, newsletters, research, seminars, workshops, community management issues, crises management, security parameters, coding, web design, literature, grammar, syntax, web development, business development, branding, selling tactics, e-commerce practices, new apps, photography, graphic design, financial reporting, marketing strategy, promotional actions, PR, press kits, meetings, etc

The discipline required to organize your time and energy is remarkable. If you seek to create interesting content then you choose a life that balances two completely different worlds: Technology & Creativity.

The interaction with your readers and followers can become fruitful and productive. Many of my followers prefer to have private online discussions on some of the hot digital marketing topics. Through these discussions, incredible ideas have been born! Mainly, for suggestions on how to deal with technical problems. A new book is coming soon, thanks to my fellow bloggers!

Dancing with newborn ideas is fascinating and rewarding enough to make you want to go further on this road. Think of bloggers as the new generation of chronicle writers and time-travelers. They witness reality and facts with a wandering eye and carry the responsibility to record what they see.

Even the most inexperienced blogger out there is part of this chain. Future generations will look back on our era and will have a rich slice of our reality at this point in time. Believe it or not, small stones keep a bridge in place!

To make a long story short: blogging is making me a better person every single day.

How blogging improves your skills by Areti Vassou

9 Comments on “How Blogging Made me a Better Listener

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