Joe (bostonsteamer) wrote in metajournal,
Joe
bostonsteamer
metajournal

Girl on a bike: 5 years later

Today is a really special day for bloggers. It's the five year anniversary of the "girl on a bike" story. Back in 2000, when one could keep up with pretty much every A-list blog, Meg Hourihan and Jason Kotke (Blogger employees) each posted an identical (fictional) account of how seeing a girl riding a bike brought back (fictional) childhood memories.

Metafilter went nuts with theories, from "blogger glitch" to "secret code" (it also used to be possible/palatable to read all the metablogs). The fact was that nobody had seen anything like this before.

And then something unusual happened. Other people started posting the story. Tom Coates (the first Girl on a Bike copycat) droped the semantic bomb on all of us
It's not the chain letter, and the best thing about all of this is that it's not collusion either. It's just organic meme-growth. It looked like an interesting thing to do (post exactly the same thing as someone else - it was already replicated once when I saw it anyway), particularly as it is such a "personal" experience. When I came to it, and it was only on two sites, I already knew that I wasn't going to be able to tell which one of them had the "genuine experience" - and so I followed my instincts and decided that it being genuine was completely irrelevant. And so I posted it as well. Lots of other people obviously felt the same way, because it's all over the place now.
What followed was the sound of thousands of dictionaries opening. Few had ever heard the word "meme" before, and nobody had seen it applied to blogging. Hell, I didn't even learn how to pronounce it for another year.

Fast forward 5 years: blog usage has grown faster than exponentially, and the word "meme" has been diluted to mean "content you post that isn't original", such as questionaires and online personality tests.

It's fun to look back on the old days of blogging, when everyone was so wide-eyed and naive. People really opened their hearts so their readers could take a look inside. Every blogger had the same "coming of age", where they'd post something that hurt another person, and after the fallout they'd realize, "hey, what I blog about really does affect my meatspace life."

[x-posted from me]
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