Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

2018 is an important year for me professionally. I don’t know why anniversaries divisible by 5 with no remainder feel more important than others, but for some reason they do. I’m going to do some writing this year in which I reflect on some of these anniversaries.

For me, 2018 marks:

  • 25 years since I made my first webpage.
  • 20 years since I started grad school.
  • 20 years since I started blogging.
  • 20 years since I coined the term “open content”, created the first open source style license for content (as opposed to software), and started advocating for open education. Later this week I’ll publish a longer post looking back at the first five years of this work, together with some lessons learned, as part of the lead up to my keynote at #OER18.
  • 15 years since I founded the OpenEd Conference.
  • 10 years since the publication of the Cape Town Declaration, which a couple dozen of us authored. See the new CPT+10 recommendations, to which I also contributed.

Perhaps the thing that has surprised me most since I started reflecting on professional anniversaries divisible by 5 this year is that it’s 20 years since I started blogging. That makes me feel old.

I had been online for several years before I started blogging. First at www.marshall.edu/~wiley6 in 1994, and insp.com (my very first internet startup, called InterSpec) in 1995, and at davidwiley.com after Elaine bought me the domain name for Christmas in 1996. (InterSpec even had a special page for people with Netscape 2.0 and Java!)

I started writing and posting short essays as a way of advancing my own understanding and hopefully generating some discussion during my first year of grad school (1998). I manually added links to each essay to the front page of my personal website, wiley.byu.edu (then  wiley.ed.usu.edu after I graduated).

I just had a good laugh re-reading my very first blog post. This rambling post explores the role of context in the reusability of learning objects and predates my formulation of the reusability paradox. It should win some kind of first-year grad student writing award, as it manages to mention Ted Nelson, fractals, nebulae, and standards-compliant metadata in three short pages. Two years later I would write my own rebuttal, titled Getting axiomatic about learning objects: In which it is demonstrated that the automated assembly of certain types of learning objects is not possible, and by-hand assembly of learning objects is legitimized. Ah… to be a student again.

Parenthetically, remember when people had personal webpages? Here’s what the homepage of davidwiley.com looked like back in 1998. Remember image maps?!?

The wiley.byu.edu homepage prominently featured this picture taken at a conference dinner (luau!) by Brandon Muramatsu, who managed to shut me up for just a moment by stuffing a napkin in my mouth. For some reason, we both thought this photo was hysterical.

The homepage of wiley.ed.usu.edu back in 2001 shows I had fully entered my minimalist homepage phase by that point:

Then Brian Lamb introduced me to the wonders of RSS and Movable Type. I used it for  blogging (at reusability.org/blogs/david/) for a few years until Movable Type changed their license:

That’s when I moved to WordPress, importing all my old blog posts into a new WordPress site at opencontent.org/blog/. I’ve been blogging here ever since. That was 1267 blog posts ago. (The earlier writing from before my move to Movable Type is archived here.)

I will never be able to express how grateful I am for the ability to jot down some thoughts, arguing with myself as I do so, and then send them out into the ether so I can further argue about them with all of you.

Blogging is my favorite form of “release early, release often.” The thoughts I post on my blog are often half-baked and you help finish cooking them – in some cases, rewriting the entire recipes from scratch! I can’t imagine what my life would be like without blogging. And for 20 years now. It seems like yesterday…

More reflections on 2018 to come.