At 10:33 p.m. on March 12, 2005, I published my first post here: Bird flu infects nurses. The complete post:
The Sunday Times Online in the UK reports on Pandemic fear as bird flu infects nurses in Vietnam.
The original link to the Times story is long gone, but the post is still on this blog—nine years, 34,000 posts, and over 3 million visits later.
I'd been blogging for a year or so by then, mostly about Writing for the Web, Writing Fiction, and English usage issues. I was also using blogs in my courses, and finding them pretty useful as education tools. So, having heard disquieting rumbles about the return of a mysterious bird flu, I decided to educate myself by blogging about the subject.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but nine years of H5N1 have taught me a lot. Not about virology or epidemiology (those are the grownups' concerns), but about how information organizes itself on the internet, how to find it, and how to disseminate it.
It's also taught me how communities organize and find themselves as well. Flublogia emerged early and has showed remarkable staying power, as well as a degree of friendly civility rare in the online world. It's a pleasure and an honour to be part of this community.
The scope of the blog has widened dramatically, and not always because I wanted it to. Five years ago, H1N1 barged into Flublogia through the back door, and I had to take notice. As the pandemic faded, I realized that it was just part of an immense network of diseases and the political and economic conditions that fight them or foment them.
My attention still focuses on rare diseases rather than the routine killers like malaria and diarrhea, in part because that's what the world's media also focus on. But I can see mission creep at work: malnutrition leads to nutrition issues, which leads to obesity and diabetes. Millions of healthy old people like me are becoming aware of unintended public-health consequences like dementia—a condition few humans before us ever lived long enough to suffer.
Until dementia or another stroke removes me from Flublogia, I intend to keep posting here. I assume that the basic structure and approach of this site is acceptable to most readers, but I'd be curious to know what, if anything, you'd like me to do differently: increase or reduce the number of links? Add coverage of some neglected disease, or drop coverage of some other disease? Ditch the editorializing about the Saudis? Let me know; I can't guarantee I'll follow your suggestions, but I'll certainly consider them.
As long as I'm in a reflective mood, I have to thank all the Flublogians who've educated me over the past nine years. You know who you are, and it's been an unexpected honour to merit your attention. I will try to continue to deserve it.