That’s the sign that started it all.
One year ago this week, we were going about the business of WSB being a standard-issue little hobby blog, a little info here, a little opinion there. Only a few hundred people knew we were here.
Then: Windstorm ’06.
We lost power for four days. Many people in West Seattle went without it for even longer. Almost as bad as the power outage – the information outage. West Seattle-specific updates were virtually impossible to come by.
We happened to be off work that week. So we decided to start roaming WS and trying to gather and share some of that info. We received, and answered, e-mails from people stuck at work or out of town and wondering if their lights were back on yet.
From there, even after the power came back on, with the phenomenal help of reader e-mail, tips, photos, and other contributions, WSB started morphing into a community-news site. “Hyperlocal,” as the buzzword goes. The more news and information we put up, the more came in, and more people kept finding the site, by Googling for something specific that we happened to have reported, or by word-of-mouth.
For months, we’ve been doing this in our spare time, early morning, late night, lunch break. But now it’s time to make a real commitment. So your editor here just quit her day job.
With the commitment of time, came the realization we have to make another commitment: For the first time, we need to trust the Internet as a safe place for us to publicly identify ourselves. Something we’ve almost NEVER done during our entire 13 years of Web surfing and blogging on other sites, something we were just kind of weird about. But now there’s no way to avoid the reality that we must commit that trust – to earn more of yours.
We didn’t set out to run West Seattle Blog anonymously for any particular reason, other than the fact the two of us have always been rather particular about keeping our names off the Internet, even though we’ve been online since the World Wide Web contained just a handful of pages (we went online in 1994, using a PowerMac 6100/60 to dial up via Delphi at 14.4 kps, and using the text-only browser known as Lynx). We’re kind of shy, kind of reclusive, and didn’t want Google trails.
We could probably keep running it anonymously if not for the fact that we need more … facts. Many amazing people, including some of your public servants (special shoutout to County Councilmember Dow Constantine and his excellent crew) have been kind enough to give us the benefit of the doubt, and provide us with information for you, without knowing what kind of crackpots were on the other end of the e-mail. But some people just won’t return a call or e-mail without a name attached to it. And we can’t blame them. However, we need their help to answer the questions you are asking, and that we are asking. So the anonymity’s become a cocoon we have to get out of, so we can get on with the business of better serving you.
We are now fully identified and explained on our “About Us” page. (But if you don’t want to know, you don’t have to click!) Thanks as always for your support and for the info, photos, comments, word-of-mouth that all combine and continue to make this an online means of community connection – something we’ve experienced a lot more of as a result of our WSB work, too. We are committing ourselves fulltime to getting you even more of the information you need. We can’t tell you how much it means to us for that information and energy to continue coming from you. That’s why this website has come to become such a passion for us, that we want to spend all our time on it. Here’s to a bright future for WSB and for all of us in West Seattle.