How a Beaverton-raised engineer helped usher in the age of blogging and social media

Tucked back away in the recesses of my brain are any number of trivial Portland startup community facts I’ve gathered over the past two decades. One of those tidbits — for which I rarely have use — is the fact that Brad Fitzpatrick, the creator of the iconic LiveJournal — arguably one of the earliest and most popular harbingers of the modern social media world — grew up in Beaverton and attended Aloha High School.

So imagine my joy when I woke up this morning to a thoughtful article on LiveJournal in Ars Technica (also highlighted by Boing Boing). If only as an excuse for me to resurrect some of that trivial knowledge.

Like many eventual household names in tech, LiveJournal started as a one-man project on a lark, driven by a techy teenager with too much time on his hands. As founder Brad Fitzpatrick recalls, in 1998, after getting kicked off America Online for messing with its service too much, he managed to convince a local ISP to enable his personal website to use the Common Gateway Interface protocol. The move allowed him to write custom scripts that would produce dynamic objects on his page, such as his exact age in seconds, counting ever upward with each refresh. The novelty of these dynamic objects astounded Fitzpatrick, to the point that he eventually made a one-line textbox that floated above his desktop’s Start bar so he could type in and post to his site.

So whether LJ gave you a new found feeling of expression and belonging or you’re simply curious about the history, the Ars piece is definitely worth the read.

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