Sunday, September 11, 2005
Look out the blogs are coming!
Perhaps you’ve overheard conversations about them. Maybe you’ve seen references to them in magazines. You might have heard them mentioned while watching your favorite TV news channel. But, admit it, you really don’t know what blogs are, do you? And you don’t want to ask for fear of appearing out of touch. Not to worry, my article this week will explain everything you need to know to become a blog expert and maybe even begin blogging yourself.
The term blog is actually short for “web log”; a personal diary or journal that is updated regularly and posted on a Web site for anyone to read. These journal updates are sorted chronologically with the most recent article or post at the top of the page.
A blog is often devoted the author’s profession, hobby, or personal convictions: sports, politics, art, social issues—just about any subject area you can think of. Prolific bloggers often maintain several blogs on dozens of topics.
My previous technology articles are posted to my blog (http://jec1230.blogspot.com/). My wife (a technical writer/editor who helps make my techno-speak understandable) recently started a blog that offers writing tips for non-writers. Other blogs are more personal in nature, an online forum where people post their thoughts on just about everything.
Not happy with the recent increase in gas prices? Feel the need to vent a little? Share those feelings with the world through your own personal blog. Blog entries can include text, pictures, and links to Web sites and other blogs. Many blogs also have biographical profiles of the authors.
Perhaps you’re asking, “Jim, a blog Sounds like text, pictures, and links on the web. Isn’t that what a Web pages are all about? What’s the difference between a blog and a personal Web site?”
There are two key differences between traditional Web pages and blogs. The first involves getting feedback from the reader. Unlike traditional Web pages, blog articles allow the reader to post a comment. These comments are available for all of the blog visitors to read, consider, and then, if they want, add their own comments. This creates a conversational thread between the blog author and the readers—much like “letters to the editor,” but made specifically in response to the blog author’s original comments.
Imagine being able to post a response to a newspaper column you just read, and then watch as reactions to your response are posted almost immediately. It creates an instant forum for dialogue and discussion. That’s what makes blogging special.
The second difference between traditional Web pages and blogs is ease of use. Blogging servers with special blogging software interfaces make it very easy to go online, type your journal entry, upload photos, create links, and post your blog. You don’t need to learn HTML or any of the other technical skills necessary for traditional web publishing.
Perhaps the best way to understand blogging is to just try it. A number of free blogging services are available on the Internet. Here’s a list of several that I’m familiar with:
Blogging is growing very fast. Starting with the blogs of a few pioneers in 1999, the “blogosphere” (a term used to represent all blogs, similar to saying the “web” to represent all web pages) has grown to millions of blogs.
Many Internet authorities believe blogging has fulfilled the early promise of the Internet to bring personal publishing capability to everyone. Thanks to blogs and blogging, everyone with access to a computer and the Internet can now publish their thoughts and opinions for the World to read.