Exactly 10 years ago, I wrote my first tentative words on a site I called "Daily Kos" until I could think of a better name (which obviously never happened). People love to quote those words, even though they make me cringe for some reason. Heck, everything I wrote in those days makes me cringe.
I was but a wee thing—30 years old. Having survived the dot.com crash, barely, I had a good job working with great people, and living in the best place on earth with my young wife. I still didn't have kids, which was crucial, because this site wouldn't exist if I had kids back then.
I tested the concept of Daily Kos two weeks before the site officially launched. I created a blogspot site and seeded it with some content to see if blogging was up my alley. It wasn't the first time I had blogged—I started my blogging career writing the "Hispanic Latino News Service" while in law school (1996-99), before blogging tools automated the whole process. I would spend four hours every day formatting the HTML for each update and manually transferring the previous day's content into the archives. (Michael D dug that stuff up last year.) It was blogging before blogging officially existed.
Anyway, after a couple of days of testing the waters on that blogspot site, I decided that yes, this was something I wanted to seriously do, so I secured the domain name and set up my Movable Type site. It was exciting! Sure, I had no readers, but I never thought I'd have any readers, so that was okay. Each new visitor to the site was a surprise and a delight! It's much easier to do this blogging thing if you set your expectations way low, and back then there was no such thing as a popular blogger, so only an idiot would expect much of anything.
I worked surreptitiously back then. "Kos" was as much an Army nickname as a way to keep my boss from knowing I was working on this site on company time. I was good at my job and worked efficiently, so it was never a problem for my employer. And even later, when I told him what I was doing, his only request was that I be discreet about it so my coworkers wouldn't get the wrong idea. Did I mention I worked with great people?
So I spent time working on Daily Kos at work, and then I spent time working at it from home after work, which proved that in addition to a great employer, I also had a great (and very patient) wife. Those were simpler web times, so I could handle much of the backend of the site, and I loved to tweak and tweak some more.
Ten years later, things are quite a bit different. This whole blogging medium has become more institutionalized—the most successful bloggers either getting sucked up by bigger media outlets, or growing into significant media operations of their own. The lone individual blogger is rare these days, and even rarer is the new voice emerging from the blogosphere. That makes me sad.
On the other hand, Daily Kos now has 21 full-time employees and several more contractors, and I have the resources to strengthen a platform that has amazingly given voice to hundreds of thousands of people. I wouldn't have even dreamed that 10 years ago.
I started Daily Kos for me. As an American, I felt betrayed by the Bush Administration. I was angry at a complicit and cowed media. I felt isolated and angry that my country was going to hell, and that the so-called liberals in the traditional media (*cough*Joe Klein*cough*) were cheering it along. This site was, for me, therapy. It was an outlet for my frustrations. It was never supposed to be anything more.
What I quickly discovered was that I wasn't alone. That there were others like you who felt the same. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. While I was a lone voice in the wilderness, you guys turned the site into a chorus. And trust me, you sing better than me ... so phew!
So thanks for being here, and staying here, and helping build this place. These have been the fastest 10 years of my life. But no matter how much we've accomplished, we're still just getting started.
Check below the fold for the site's evolution over the last 10 years.
2002 (MovableType, site v. 1.0)