If you stay at this old habit of writing in your own space (rather then handing it off to whacky billionaires?) a side benefit is being able to tap into your own past experiences. It’s much more than nostalgia, especially as my human memory banks tend to get leaky over time.

Or maybe it’s just me and my blog-centric view of the world.

A few weeks back I was looking for… see! I do not remember how this started, and even my browser history I use regularly as a backup failed. Alas, I ended up on a 2016 post, on a topic or– suprise — blogging featuring what I hoped was a bit of a tribute to the blogging of Martin Weller.

This was inspired by Martin’s post (essentially what I am doing today) of Revisiting my own (blog) past where he suggested a time machine act:

Here’s a fun thing to try if you’ve been blogging for a while (Warning: may not actually be fun). Get a random date from when you started blogging until present (eg using this random date generator), find the post nearest that date and revisit it. 


In revisiting it I set myself four questions:

1) What, if anything, is still relevant?
2) What has changed?
3) Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
4) What is my personal reaction to it?


See, it’s more than nostalgia, this is a reflective exercise.

But the date thing requires a trip to another site, fiddling with the date your blog started (do you recall), and then rummaging in your archives to locate a post written closest to that date.

All you really need is thingie that will give you a random post. Apparently I have blogged about this before with arcane PHP solutions. I have found if you have the WordPress Jetpack plugin installed, you can get this functionality by simply appending ?random on the end of your blog’s home. e.g. https://cogdogblog.com/?random

I’m a big fan of random stuff (look a really old random tool that does not work, cough SHOCKWAVE), and have providing this feature into all my SPLOT wordpress themes. That approach has evolved from the first method of creating a page template to having the code in it, requiring creation of a WordPress page that uses it, to a sleeker version tha does it by creating a rewrite slug that does it.

For some reason, I was compelled when this whole thing started a few weeks ago, to slap together a WordPress plugin called Random Post Redirector Plugin for WordPress that provides this functionality (if you do your own theme coding, you could just add it to your functions.php template.)

My fancy add on this, is that you can (okay it requires editing of the plugin) make the custom URL anything you like, so with this enabled here, my new fancy random blog link is https://cogdogblog.com/digforbone

I won’t bore you with the code, it is commented and explained in terms I understand (!) in the plugin file.

Enough of this, I put it to work, landing via my own blog time machine on January 11, 2012 with…

Here I wound through some unpacking of another blog worn topic, suggesting that you do make or create serendipity, you set up potential for it to happen. And Wikipedia wandering led me off track to discover zemblanity.

So from the questions, (1) What is still relevant? Well, I still talk, write, and think about serendipity the same way. We often talk about “building community” online as if it is constructed, and I feel it’s the same idea. We do not actually manufacture it, we do a lot of things to create the potential and opportunity for it, but it’s not a concrete thing. It does not have a fixed form, it’s more like a bit of an Uncertainty Principle around it.

(2) What has changed? Not much, serendipity it’s a concept I have internalized into my every day ways and see it happening those every days, but also feel like sometimes I am the only person who finds it of interest, like it’s my weird hobby. So as most of the conversation is howawful Twitter is, how is it I can have an interesting find, most every time I visit?

(3) Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline? Not a whole lot (as I try to unpack if I even have a discipline). Maybe that magic, wonder, getting excited about the unknown are less of interest as my “field” is so aimed elsewhere, on outputs and numbers and making announcements.

(4) What is my personal reaction to it? I’m still in the game of creating potential for serendipity to happen, remaining unexpecting of it. Heck, it was the theme of yesterday’s post.

Thus while my frequent writing of the things in the blog archives or even repeatedly spout about what this practice means to me, by no means is this driving forward solely by navigating by fixating on the rearview mirror. That was really what I had hoped I had said back in that 2016 post championing the Bloghicans (of which there are many many fewer):

So like a Bloghican, this pile of rambles and brambles might be seen as just old stuff I spend too much looking back on, but, that is how I look forward.


I’d rather be an old babblng Bloghican clutching at the knobs of my time machine than a thread spawning twitter influencer wondering what to do with that coveted blue check mark.

Featured Image: Found via an Openverse search on “Time Travel” — you’ve not even heard of Openverse? I’ve got yer post right here

Time Traveler
Time Traveler flickr photo by SGPhotography77 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. What a fantastic idea! I love it and will give it a go. I created a Blog Archive https://activatelearning.com.au/archive/ because I had lost track of everything I had written. The big difference for me is that 2022, I’ve been writing a lot more (since I got off social media) but it’s become more like a journal than writing about professional development or learning – more rambling reflections with lots more photos…I’ve started to think whether I should just rebrand my site to my name now…

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