Happy 21st, rossp.org!

On being around a while, and owning your own online identity.

Posted by Ross Poulton on Wed 20 March 2024 #meta #blogging #anniversaries

On Thursday 20th March 2003, for reasons that have been lost to the sands of time, I registered the domain rossp.org and started to build a new personal website for myself.

This wasn’t my first personal site, but it was the one where I shed my younger, grungier, sillier persona and used a name I’m not embarrassed of.

I had (and still have) a desire to have a ‘home’ on the web, where I could write little articles or blog posts (I considered these two separate things at the time) and publish them for others to read. Sounds simple, right? But at the time I didn’t really have an option to do this except Blogger, which for some reason I ruled out.

Watching websites come and go in the intervening 21 years, I’m glad to have registered this domain and had my own place online. I’ve had my own email address1 that hasn’t needed to change2 and I am comfortable that I have “owned” my online identity.

Why didn’t I just post on social media instead? Well, it didn’t exist… Facebook didn’t arrive until 11 months later, and even Myspace - the OG social network - arrived half a year after I started this little website.

Tumblr, Gmail, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, and plenty more all came way later. Flickr came later. It almost sounds unreal now. Such as the web was, even at that relatively late point.

Early on, I had a Twitter-style “blog” here with short updates. I seem to remember writing a PHP script to let me send an SMS “to the website” to add simple posts, but that’s long gone. It’s wild to think that Twitter started with a very similar sms-becomes-webcontent way.

Amusingly later in 2003 I scrapped the blog, with the comment “weblogs are useless”.

Updates have always been somewhat sporadic. I posted photos of new cars and my home theatre PC setup, I shared little code snippets, and I even wrote a shitty book review or two. My transition from PHP to Python and Django started in early January 2006, after which I blogged about Django changes and learnings and the evolution of WhisperGifts following my engagement party.

That’s all died down a bit now, which I have been kind of OK about but also I’m a little sad about. I often think about writing here, but that doesn’t turn into words. The main exception is my yearly running retrospectives which I always enjoy writing. A few recent posts, including this very post and one a few weeks ago about enjoying my journey with vinyl records are an attempt to get back into the habit of writing regularly.

So here we are. Consider these some more new words written. I missed the 10- and 20-year anniversaries for the site, so let’s lean into the Australian tradition of celebrating a 21st birthday.

Pop the sparkling wine - here’s to another weird 21 years.

Cover: Your humble author at his own 21st birthday, almost 20 years ago! Photo by my now wife Lauren.

  1. Gmail didn’t exist in 2003, Hotmail was a hot mess. Using a Gmail address today seems acceptable for most; the same couldn’t be said back then for other free email providers. 

  2. My professional email has been across 4 different domain names in the same timeline.