The Internet and Me: How It Started, Where It’s Going

From the newsletter:

In the hazy summer of 2003, I started a blog. I was a newly minted PhD with two newly minted babies living in a four-floor walk up in Washington Heights with an evening professor gig at Columbia. After Steve introduced me to the wacky world of the young blogosphere, I quickly signed up for a free blogspot blog.

At first, I didn’t expect anyone but my husband to read it. My posts were intended to amuse him as he scrolled through his blogroll during his lunch hour. Weirdly enough, other people found me, and I became part of several online communities. I couldn’t quite decide if I was going to write about academics, family, society, dresses, or whatever blew my skirt up that day. Some days, I was a mommyblogger. Other days, I was an academic blogger. 

That random decision to start a blog, named after my actual address (pro tip: don’t do that), led to many marvelous adventures, jobs, academic and mainstream publications, and permanent friendships. (Want to hear those war stories?) It helped me become a faster writer who doesn’t sweat over perfection. It enabled me to transition from academia to journalism – a massive mid-life career shift. It was a place for comfort and human contact, when our son’s unique disability isolated us from others. 

But the eclectic nature of my blogging and tweeting and instagramming and newslettering meant that I’ve never made much money from social media. I never developed a brand or influencer-level readership. From the beginning, I knew that I needed to be more disciplined and structured, but I never cared that much. Blogs were my secret hobby. I wanted to be free to write about whatever amused me that day without worrying about audience and all that. 

But change is coming. 

Apt. 11D — in both the newsletter and blog form — will stay the same. It will be free and undisciplined. I’ll write about whatever I like and post links to serious and fun stuff. But I’m going to start other newsletters on very specific areas of expertise. Those other ventures will be free, for a while. 

The first new project will be a newsletter called “The Great Leap: From Autism to Adult.” After Ian graduated from high school last year, he and I (it’s truly a joint effort) have worked REALLY hard to go from the world of high school – a venue that Ian had mastered – to the world of adulthood, a scary and exciting place with no road signs. I’ll tell some stories and give tips to others who are on this road. I’ve been able to utilize my deep background in higher education to help him take classes at the local community college. Nobody prepares you for what’s waiting after high school, if you’re a parent of a special needs kid. But I’ll tell all.

I am creating this niche newsletter in part, because I want to get really detailed about disability and education and employment stuff. I will to continue writing occasional pieces for a mainstream audience about disability issues, but most people don’t want to hear all the nitty-gritty. This newsletter will have the nitty-gritty. I do hope that this newsletter will appeal to a broader audience, but it’s not my primary objective.

Sign up, please! First one will appear next Wednesday.

One thought on “The Internet and Me: How It Started, Where It’s Going

  1. Don’t know if I will subscribe with pay for a niche that isn’t mine (sometimes it can be voyeuristic), but will do what I can to encourage!

    I absolutely love the blasts from the past at the young 11D (of young motherhood, early 21st century politics and culture, young childhood, and young bloghood) that your past posts provide and re-read them (they are comfort reading).

    My (non-public) blog started in September 2007, also without much thought about what it would mean; I also thought of amusing family, and really expected only my husband to read. I backfill, so I can’t be certain exactly what the first posts were, but there are moments memorialized. An example, From September 2007.

    “S and I drove the carpool (which I organized, discovering that organizing folks is a lot more work than I thought, a useful tidbit to know for the future).

    L, E, and A were in the car. They were agitating for a movie in the car (the Sienna has a DVD player). I said no, but then, L suggested that they vote on it. The three girls voted yes, and Stan and I voted no. Foolishly, I suggested that mean the grown-ups still won, because we had a million votes. E, said, “OK, if that’s true, then the kids have an infinity of votes.” I said, that infinity wouldn’t work, because then what would happen if two people with infinite votes voted against each other? Leela said, “Well, if infinity isn’t a number, then we’ll have a googleplex of votes, and we still win.” E thought it was a googleflex. But, fortunately, at that point, we arrived at the soccer field. ”

    Remember DVDs?

    L is now a history major in college, and has friends who see the history potential of early 21st century blogs (and occasionally read mine).


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