Presently blogging is nothing short of an online revolution. “Blog” is even the number one word of the year according to Merriam-Webster. Everywhere online you go it seems that people are latching on to this new concept and blog’s are popping up right and left. But what is a blog, who uses them, and are they for me? I will answer these questions and fill you in on the world of blogging so that you too can get started on your own blog.
In short “blog” stands for web log. These online web logs are often opinionated and often written by a sole author, or “blogger”. Early forms of the blog started popping up around 1994 around the dawn of the internet when people started leaving pen and paper journals and began to publish their entries online. Only now, however are these things beginning to catch on. Many major news organizations are realizing the power of blogs and now employing bloggers to cover events such as political conventions. Many companies eager to cash in on the phenomenon are creating blogging sites, Google (Blogger), AOL (AOL Journals),Yahoo (only in Korea for now), and even Microsoft, who launched their service this week, are all trying for a piece of the pie.
Up to date
More and more internet users are demanding up to date information as soon as it comes out. The internet seems to reinforce a “content on demand” mentality; something that newspapers, who only release one paper a day, can’t compete with. An example of this is when I’ve seen stories on a blog, and then two days later read the same story in the daily newspaper, only this time it seems like old news. Yet another example of this on demand approach is my moblog, a form of blogging that you post pictures using your mobile phone, and is updated instantly for viewing. As technology changes, print mediums such as newspapers are not able to fulfill peoples demands for new content. Were seeing devices such as mobile phones and even iPods used to read and get blog updates.
Unregulated and unconfined
Since a large majority of the blogs are written by an individual not working for a company as a traditional news writers would, what hey write about and how they choose present topics is entirely up to them. Bloggers are not subjected to an editor or need to confine to the political ideals of a publication. This is a key reason blogs are becoming a very popular medium for writers. No longer do you have to be an established writer for your views or opinions to get read. Some very popular blogs are written by seemingly normal people outside the journalism community.
What’s in a blog?
Merriam-Webster defines a blog as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks.” Though this is technically correct, it’s not entirely accurate, since there is no real set standard to what constitutes a blog. Blogs don’t even have to contain writings as there are numerous photoblogs, moblogs, and videoblogs online. The lack of a clear standard also notes that this technology is in its infancy and will progress as it matures.
I’m hooked, how do I get a blog?!
For those who can’t wait to tell the world their views, and have little to no web programming and design knowledge, Google’s free Blogger service is probably one of the best services to start at. Other than Blogger, there are numerous other free services out there, you just have to search for them, however it seems that one to avoid is Microsoft’s recently released service because it employs censorship technologies. For those who have a web server and domain handy and have a background in web development as I did, there are also numerous free blogging platforms that you can download and install on your server such as B2evolution and WordPress. Personally, I chose to use B2evolution because it had the features I was looking for. Be warned this route does take PHP and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) knowledge so isn’t for the beginner.
In all, you are likely to hear the term blog or blogging used a lot in the near future and may even feel motivated to start your own blog. Even if you don’t plan on writing your own blog get familiar with the technology as chances are one day it will be a part of your job if you’re going into the journalism world.