Eight Years On: N.Z. Bear and Beyond

From target=”_blank”>The Truth Laid Bear, May 16, 2002:

The news of the day (yesterday, to be precise) is the White House’s  minor little revelation that there was indeed some warning that Al Qaeda planned to hijack American airliners. Somehow this tidbit appears to have slipped everyone’s mind at 1600 Pennsylvania until just yesterday. Tip of the hat to Instapundit (5/15 at 10:31 pm and again 5/16 at 9:03 am) for providing the definitive debunking of the arguments why it’s OK that the FBI, CIA, INS and the rest of the federal government “couldn’t conceive” of this kind of attack ever occuring.

That’s the first blog post I ever wrote, right there: eight long years (and one day) ago. The Truth Laid Bear (subhead: A Bear, the World, and the Strong Urge to Hibernate) launched on Blogspot (natch) on May 16th, 2002 and… nobody noticed really. Not at first.

But here we are eight years later, and first, I have to say, Happy Blogiversary to me! The few and proud immediately pre- and post- 9/11 bloggers can claim longer tenure than I, as can those pioneers who had “personal journals” before the word blog even existed. (Doc Searls, I believe, ran his first site on a gopher server, and Dave Winer did what Real Men do, and coded every bit of text for each post in assembly language that had to be compiled on each readers’ computer.)

But other than those two groups, I can rightly claim that I’ve been around this rodeo longer than most. And to quote the cliche, what a long strange trip it has been. In 2002, I was a successful, but typical, technology exec, having learned my trade in the trenches of Andersen Consulting / Accenture. But I always enjoyed writing, so I figured I’d try this blogging thing as a hobby, and stretch my prose muscles a bit. A bit of writing here and there to soothe the soul: no big deal, and certainly nothing life-changing.


The slippery slope really began with a little idea called the Blogosphere Ecosystem which, believe it or not, was created in part simply because I wanted to avoid having to pick who to put on my own blogroll. After that, it never stopped. N.Z. Bear, as I was known then (and many still think of me as now), became a bigger and bigger part of my life. More blogging; more iterations on the Ecosystem, more projects, and more joyful discoveries of just what you could do with these blog thingies.

The New Blog Showcase. Porkbusters. Blog for Katrina Relief. The Victory Caucus. Top Conservatives on Twitter. ReadTheStimulus.orgTea Party Patriots. I was CPAC’s first ever Blogger of the Year. I’ve been on the teevee.  I got to shoot stuff at Blackwater. I got to meet the President of the United States and get my pic taken with him in the Oval Office. And perhaps most importantly, I have my own theme music on the Hugh Hewitt show, even if his slacker producer hardly ever actually remembers to use it for me anymore.

Through all of it, the pseudonym N.Z. Bear stayed intact. If you had asked me in 2002, I would never have believed I could have done practically anything without slipping up or having some nosie nellie actually bother to hunt down my real name. (Which, for the record, I never hid for any reason other than I just didn’t want coworkers at my Day Job bothering me about whatever annoying post I had just put up the night before).  But I managed to pull it off, oddly enough, and so on October 4, 2007 I ultimately had to out myself (on the Hugh Hewitt show)  as I launched Kithbridge. Five years, four months, and eighteen days: who says you can’t keep a secret on the Internet?

But now, of course, blogs aren’t just a hobby: they’re my business, as  I left the Day Job behind to found Kithbridge, which provides new media monitoring and consulting services for businesses, political campaigns, and nonprofits.

But a funny thing happened while blogs and new media were taking over my life: I stopped blogging. The deeper I got in, the more tools I developed and services I provided for projects and clients, the less time I seemed to have (or to make) for actually doing what got me into this in the first place.

So today, eight years (plus one day) after taking that first leap into the pond, I’m re-launching; re-committing; re-something to my own personal blogging. Don’t expect Glenn-like posting frequency, or the fascinatingly pedantic detail of Tom Maguire. This isn’t the best time in my life to re-focus on blogging, it’s arguably the worst, as I have a new family of my own (two new cubs!) that will most certainly take priority.

But here, at least, will be a place where you can find, if you so care, whatever thoughts come to me whenever I actually get around to posting them. Doesn’t exactly have the punch of “Live Free or Die” as a mission statement, but it’s rather more self-aware than “Don’t Be Evil”, at least.

This blog is a work in progress, as are all of course, but this one more than most. The theme is meh; I’m about halfway done with stuff that needs to go on the sidebar, and I’m sure there’s half a dozen other things wrong with it that will require deep tinkering over the coming weeks. But it’s here, and it’s functional.

TTLB hasn’t gone away, and yes, before anyone asks, I know full well that it and the Ecosystem are long overdue for a cleanup and tuneup itself. (Again, irony; the needs of the business side of the house (Kithbridge) have left little time for the more playful things like the Ecosystem). But I decided that my new blog needed a new home; N.Z. Bear, bless his fuzzy self, has retired, and it’s just Rob endeavoring to persevere onwards from here on out. For those who care, my blog post archives from TTLB are still over there, but they’re also here, and are far more accessible on this shiny new WordPress system.

So there you have it. This week, brace yourself for some nostalgia: going through this process has forced me to browse through some old archives, and there’s some fun stuff buried back there in ’02 – ’03, before the tectonic plates of the political blogosphere cooled and hardened into their current rigid forms. (Note, for instance, that in my first post above — and many after —  I was bashing Bush (and so was Glenn) — although those truly paying attention will realize that never actually stopped on either of our parts.) I may just have to dig some interesting tidbits up for re-examination through the lens of 2010 to kick things off in the new digs here.

And finally, to my clients who may look at this site and view it as an example to be followed: don’t! When you have an eight-year blogoversary, you can do a half-baked relaunch with a barely thought out and only mostly functional new blog. Until then, don’t screw around, talk to me, and we’ll get it right!

Here, however, I reserve the right to get it wrong: frequently, and with vigor. Hope everyone will drop by now and again to to see the show…

But And oh how the world has changed: I was bashing Bush (and so was Glenn) — and my post contains a spelling error, damnit.