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11 key moments in [Anglo-]Caribbean blog history

THE INTERNET ARCHIVE IS preserving copies of many early blog pages, but most bloggers are too busy posting to think about otherwise documenting what they're doing. The history of the blogosphere goes back barely a decade, but evolution has been rapid, and bloggers who were around just three or four years ago may already seem like patriarchs and matriarchs. Here's a stab at an outline of Caribbean blog history — with a strong bias towards the region's Anglophone territories, and many pivotal moments no doubt missing. (Also, frankly, heavily biased towards the small circle of regular bloggers from the south Caribbean who I'm acquainted with in person or online.) Please use the comments to fill in the “historical record” — and maybe this will be just the start of a more comprehensive blog history project.

25 August, 2001
: Jamaican Mad Bull‘s blog goes online — maybe not the first Caribbean blog, but certainly one of the very earliest in the region's Anglophone territories. (Anyone know of Caribbean bloggers who've been around longer? Please leave details in the comments.) His first post reports on a night out with his wife. Mad Bull becomes known for his irreverent musings on life in contemporary Jamaica — and his connoisseurship of the Caribbean's female beauties….

30 September, 2002: the West Indies Cricket Blog is launched by Ryan Naraine of caribbeancricket.com. It goes on to become the Anglophone Caribbean's most popular blog — yes, West Indians love their cricket. A link from Ryan usually means a major spike in hits.


8 October, 2002: one of the earliest references to blogging in the Caribbean's mainstream press appears in a Jamaica Observer article by Alex Dennis headlined “Hidden gems on the Web”, which recommends BlogSpot to prospective bloggers. About six months later — on 14 April, 2003 — the Trinidad Guardian runs a feature on Trini bloggers (not in the online archives) that leads to a temporary spike in hits.

19 December, 2003
: in the earliest known example of Caribbean liveblogging, Imran Khan's Guyana Blog covers a major fire in downtown Georgetown, Guyana. He even posts a diagram of the destroyed building to jog the memories of Guyanese readers outside the country.

14 January, 2005
: the first Caribbean blogger to make a point of writing consistently in a “non-standard” local dialect appears: Guyana Gyal, whose first post is addressed to “Guyanese homesick in Foreign”. Guyana Gyal will soon begin using her blog to appeal for help for Guyanese communities inundated by disastrous flooding along the country's low-lying Demerara coast.

21 February, 2005
: the Caribbean's first podcasting site, Caribbean Free Radio, posts its inaugural podcast: an interview with the Trinidadian rapso group 3Canal.

11 August, 2005
: the CariBlogrs webring is launched by Jamaican blogger fyrfli.

21 October, 2005: Caribbean Beat becomes the first magazine in the Anglophone Caribbean to launch an official blog. The Beat blog‘s first post? A link to Global Voices.

16 November, 2005: Trinidad and Tobago wins its last FIFA World Cup qualifying match; Trini bloggers provide live blog coverage of the match, broadcast audio commentary via Skype, and report on the massive, spontaneous victory celebrations in the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando — with more audio coverage the next day. The T&T mainstream media start to pay real attention to the blogging phenomenon — bloggers get quoted in the newspapers and invited to appear on TV.

27 November, 2005: the first known Caribbean bloggers meetup happens over dinner at a restaurant in Trinidad; oddly, only one of the five bloggers present actually blogs about it. Just over a month later a group of Jamaican bloggers organises the second known Caribbean bloggers meetup.

9 January, 2006: Global Voices recognises the Caribbean as a separate region to the rest of the Americas, and appoints its first Caribbean editor, Georgia Popplewell. Over at Americas editor David Sasaki's blog, a discussion starts up about how to define the Caribbean geographically. Caribbean bloggers leap into the fray….

  • http://www.knowprose.com Taran

    Well, I will not claim being the first blogger around, but I’ve been blogging from Trinidad since about 2000, though I was more active on discussion boards at the time… thus ‘cnd’ – CoolNameDenied. :-)

  • http://el-oso.net/blog David Sasaki

    The world’s first blog historian?

    This post really put things in perspective for me even though I’ve been following the Caribbean blogosphere for a little while now. It would be great if you keep this as a working draft and keep filling it in and updating it as the years go by. It would be come an invaluable resource to be linked to by all interested.

    I would definitely count Ernesto’s blog from Havana, Cuba as one of the major developments in the Caribbean blogosphere. That is, if Cuba is considered part of the Caribbean. (I kid)

  • http://www.caribbeancricket.com Ryan Naraine

    I think the growth of the Guyana Media Critic deserves an honourable mention. This blog has single-handedly improved the dress code and language on TV and radio, grammar and spell-checking in newspapers and all-round reporting quality in Guyana. It’s the must-read in media circles in and out of Guyana.

  • http://nicholaslaughlin.blogspot.com Nicholas Laughlin

    Taran: thanks for correcting our timeline–& pushing “recorded” history back by maybe a year! Though I doubt we’ll ever definitively establish who the first Caribbean blogger was. Do you have a link to your first (or at least a very early) post that we can insert?

    David: This is where, after all my talk about “Caribbeanness”, the regional consciousness begins to fragment. Afraid I don’t know Ernesto’s blog at all, but will try to get acquainted. After drafting the list I modified the title (adding “Anglo-”) because, of course, it takes no account of Caribbean bloggers in other tongues.

    Ryan: Media Critic duly added to the the “working draft” of the record. I didn’t realise this blog had such an impact on Guyanese mainstream media. Bravo to GMC.

  • http://www.knowprose.com Taran

    The first posts were lost due to a Spam Attack on MovableType, back in the day – but they did include some correspondence with Richard Stallman, and were focused on Free Software/Open Source as I recall. Nothing much to talk about in a ‘Caribbean’ perspective.

    So, what is a Caribbean perspective? Is it someone from the Caribbean talking about the Caribbean alone? Seems like it. Sort of sad, really.

  • http://www.caribbeanfreeradio.com/ Georgia Popplewell

    Taran,

    If you were blogging from Trinidad since 2000, then you were blogging before Mad Bull, which puts you in the running for the title of first Caribbean blogger. Nicholas will simply have to insert the part about the first posts being lost into the “historical record”. I hardly think it makes a difference whether you were talking about Caribbean issues or free software – the fact is that you were blogging.

    But who said a “Caribbean perspective” meant talking about the Caribbean alone?

    Congrats!
    Georgia

  • http://nicholaslaughlin.blogspot.com Nicholas Laughlin

    I’d say a Caribbean perspective is any perspective from or on the Caribbean–the subject of that perspective doesn’t really matter. And there are far more varieties of “perspective” here in the Caribbean than any of us has yet grasped. That’s what makes the Great Work of understanding ourselves so challenging and so much fun. Anyway, the Caribbean Blog Annals are very much a work in progress, and I hope readers will continue to post additions and suggestions for incorporation.

    Yours,
    Nicholas Tacitus

  • http://www.owensoft.net owen

    I started the blog of my site in august of 2003. in my case my blog is rather eccentric since I nothing in particular to write about. Most of my blogging time is spent on the technical aspects of interface design and figuring out how to get people to comment more. But anyway a first jamaican meetup?.

  • Pingback: West Indies Cricket Blog » Key Moments in C’bean Blogging History

  • http://www.knowprose.com Taran

    Hmm. Well, It doesn’t matter to me who was first. I will thank Sean McCormick, one of my former editors at CramSession, for dragging me into the blogosphere before there *was* a blogosphere, and before it was cool. Looking at the timeline, maybe I was the first. Maybe not. Does it really matter? No… I don’t think so. I do know that there wasn’t a lot of blog buzz in the Caribbean until around 2003 – when Owen (Owensoft) and I cybermet. That was related to FOSS, as I recall.

    Owen (OwenSoft) distinguished himself from most bloggers in the Caribbean and Planet – and I would suggest adding him: He Wrote His Own Weblog software. That could have been really big for him, but the problem was that everyone was going ga-ga over MovableType and… geez, I can’t remember the first blog software I used.

    Ugh. I keep thinking ‘green’ or something, but I can’t remember it. I remember switching to MovableType and losing some data, then MovableType getting comment spam, and then getting MT Blacklist when it came out… and over a weekend, I got spammed with a few THOUSAND spam comments, and the whole ‘updating static pages’ stuff broke me down, so I went to what I am using now – Drupal, which has kept pace admirably…

    Stanford T. Mings Jr. (Technonupe.net) started a weblog after FOSS Caribbean, but doesn’t keep it up that much. Jacqueline’s been out there for a while, but she’s not a regular poster either. The lipstick blogs were out in force at this time as a few people tried it out, but they were left out. A few coalesced into more interesting things, perhaps as the bloggers survived adolescence (how few do…)

    When Doc Searls and I compared notes in Boston last year, he was before me by a year or so, as I recall. He was writing about stuff for Linux Journal, and I was blogging related stuff… 2000/2001. I came back to Trinidad with a working blog, hosted by Sean McCormick, but… I didn’t have internet access for about 3 months (TSTT). So, I came down on July 5th, 2000… October 2000 is something I could claim, but can’t prove. Most memorable post was in 2001 when I emailed Richard Stallman a link, and started a discussion that probably irked both of us. It was a discussion of ‘Freedom’. :-) I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still don’t agree with his personal definition – at least the one he had in 2001…

    But that still doesn’t mean I am the first. If we count the diaspora, there may be much earlier – and they would be harder to find because they may not have posted much about the Caribbean. Until about 2002, there wasn’t really anything from the blogosphere. Last year, 2005, put the Caribbean on the map… Global Voices, etc.

    As for the Caribbean part and Caribbean perspective – I’m glad both of you (Georgia, Nicholas) see it that way. It’s the way that I see it, but I’ve run into mindsets that don’t allow for that.

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