As Thoughtcat stalwarts will know, I’m currently migrating all my original blog entries from a series of clunky hand-“crafted” html pages to WordPress. I began Thoughtcat in January 2003 and since starting the transfer process this summer have got up to about half way through May of that year. For reasons known best to myself (modesty perhaps, as unlikely as that seems) I haven’t been commenting much on it on this end of the blog or on Twitter, which I update far more often, so as of now I’ll be tweeting the old blog entries as they’re transferred.
It’s interesting to rediscover things you wrote about six years ago; my first ever blog post on 10th January 2003 concerned a financial analyst’s observation that a war in Iraq “could be good for ISA business”, and a few days later I wrote about taking part in the Stop the War march, the first such protest I’d ever been on. The Iraq war politicised me like nothing else – I didn’t intend for it to happen but Iraq has ended up the biggest category in my tag cloud. That said, I’d forgotten about many of the stories I blogged about at the time, such as Robin Cook’s resignation or the ways in which the three main party leaders delivered their TV addresses about the war.
Thoughtcat wasn’t strictly a political blog, though – there have always been lighthearted things, such as the “miracle” of a map of Africa appearing in Nelson Mandela’s palm-print and a pithy analysis of TV cookery, interspersed with links to interviews with writers like Dan Rhodes and Sue Townsend and other cultural nuggets.
On a more mundane level it’s also interesting also to see which links still work and which don’t; almost every link from the Guardian and BBC still goes to the original page, as those sites have excellent archive facilities; interesting to see that the old BBC page layouts are unchanged whereas the Guardian’s content appears in the template of their new site. I’m disappointed though that every Independent link now redirects only to their home page, so those stories are effectively lost, as I haven’t got time to search the site to see if the story now appears under some new web address or if it’s just been removed altogether. Then again, the Independent is a shadow of what it used to be anyway, so I’m not too fussed about it; messing about with their URL/archiving system is their loss.
Many of the blog posts comment on two or three completely different subjects, separated by asterisks. This isn’t something I’d do now, but at the time I had in mind the format of a daily newspaper column, where someone like Simon Hoggart would spend a few paragraphs on this topic and then a few paragraphs on that topic without feeling the need to link them thematically. Thus you get some rather odd things like one blog entry about some newly uncovered Philip Larkin verses, a review of the new Matrix film and a few words about the Eurovision song contest. (Note to self: if Eurovision was about music, why didn’t they call it Eurosound?) It did occur to me to create separate new blog entries for the different items in such a post but again I don’t have time, and anyway I like the original format, weird as it sometimes is.
One aspect of the original posts has changed however. The old entries didn’t usually have titles, only the date on which I was writing at that particular time; again I looked at the blog then as more of a diary, which after all is where the word blog comes from. Thus in the new system I’ve had to make up titles for the old entries, which sometimes feels contrived and is often pretty difficult given the eclectic nature of some of the posts as described above. Several of them I’ve just titled “Stuff in the news”, which may lack imagination but is at least honest…