There are few things that helped establish me as a blogger as much as I and the Bird. Way back in the Dark Ages of blogging when I started out, well the Renaissance is probably a better analogy, I discovered carnivals. I believe that the first one I sent a post to was the Tangled Bank, a Natural Science carnival. I contributed a couple of posts to them, but I never felt like I belonged there. Then I discovered that there was going to be a carnival about birds, a new one called I and the Bird and I thought I'd give it a shot.
Now a carnival, for those of you unfamiliar, is a venue for people to re post something they've written. They come out a regular schedule, the host rotating amongst those that contribute. Posts are collected and combined, usually with a theme. They were a great way of driving traffic to your blog.
I'm not sure how I heard about I and the Bird, I had only been blogging for a couple of months back in July of 2005. I was still poking around, enjoying the experience, happy with my 13 or so hits a day. When I and the Bird #1 came out, I was there. Suddenly I had a couple of hundred people come visit, and a bunch stayed. Some of those have come back almost every day since, unbelievably reading every bit of drivel I have spewed out along the way.
When I look back at that first issue, I see familiar friends, people who I have come to know, albeit only through the internet, but people who I count among my friends. My blog mom, Nuthatch was there. Her blog bootstrap analysis is still going, not often enough, but it still exists.
The Dharma Bums were there for the first I and the Bird. Of course that was so far back that they were known as the Dread Pirate Roberts and Rexroth's Daughter, before they became Roger and Robin. More friends. Dave, my fast Alaskan friend, he of Bird TLC and Around Anchorage. John, from the other US shore the Atlantic, the Jersey Shore. His A DC Birding Blog also still going strong. And Duncan, of Ben Cruachan, all the way on the other end of the earth in Australia. Not quite where I'd end up if I dug a hole straight through the earth, but damn close enough.
Most of the contributing blogs from that first edition still exist. Some have fallen by the wayside, but surprisingly not many. Three of us, myself, John and Duncan contributed to the latest edition, #149. Well, four if you count 10,000 Birds, but we'll get to them in a moment. Duncan, I believe, has had a post in every single edition. 149 posts is more than many blogs produce in total, his loyalty to I and the Bird is quite simply astounding.
I continued to find more great blogs and great people throughout the years of I and the Bird. People like Seabrooke of The Marvelous in Nature, David Ringer of Search and Serendipity, Carel of Rigor Vitae, Liza, and Susannah of Wanderin' Weeta, and many more. And of course Mike, Corey of 10,000 Birds and Charlie, formally of 10,000 Birds and Charlies Bird Blog. I and the Bird made the world closer, and birding and birders more accessible to me. Through it I got to rub shoulders with some great people I otherwise wouldn't have. At times I feel like a guy invited to a party he doesn't really belong in. It is a world I'm welcomed in, in a large part because of I and the Bird.
Hosting I and the Bird was a most satisfying experience, not easy, stressful, but very rewarding. The hard part is coming up with a new way of presenting the various and varied posts. Something cohesive and unique, and above all interesting. It is a bar that got set very high. I hosted twice, IATB #11 and IATB # 71. I think I acquitted myself well, or at least didn't embarrass myself.
Hosting drove an incredible amount of traffic my way. When I hosted #11 and was kicking around 100 or so hits a day, to suddenly see 1000 a day was startling. And while most visited and left, many stuck around, adding to my circle of virtual friends.
But now its over, I and the Bird #149 is the last one. The changing face of the internet and social media makes carnivals a model that no longer works well. It had a good run, a damned good run. It lasted just short of 6 years, coming out every two weeks. It outlasted every other decent carnival out there, by far. A damned fine run indeed.
And that is a testament to the energy and vision of its creator, Mike of 10,000 Birds. IATB is, or rather was, his baby, his creation. It is something he should be very proud of, I'm sure he is. Its time had come perhaps, but while it was here it was a magnificent thing, and he should be puffing his chest out with pride. And we should all be stopping by and thanking him for his accomplishment, it made the blogging world a better place.
So stop by and read his eulogy for I and the Bird and tell him you appreciate what he did. Visit Twin Cities Naturalist's latest edition, the last #149. Stop by the I and the Bird page where all the past editions are linked to (all except for #13 which was lost in a server mishap). Perhaps all good things must come to an end. Perhaps not all of them should. But no matter what should or must be, I and the Bird has ended its run. And what a run it was.