Thursday, June 22, 2006

Blogs

Hi there.

For the first time in the history of blogging, you are about to get the comprehensive history of blogs and blogging. A complete, comprehensive treatment of a tool that has caused millions of Internet users to transform their content information into a big source of super knowledge.

A weblog (usually shortened to blog, but occasionally spelled web log or weblog) is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles, most often in reverse chronological order. Early weblogs were simply manually updated components of common websites. However, the evolution of tools to facilitate the production and maintenance of web articles posted in said chronological fashion made the publishing process feasible to a much larger, less technical, population. Ultimately, this resulted in the distinct class of online publishing that produces blogs we recognize today. For instance, the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of "blogging". Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software on regular web hosting services.

Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.
Blog basics

The term blog is a blend of the terms web and log, leading to web log, weblog, and finally blog. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called blogging. Individual articles on a blog are called "blog posts," "posts" or "entries". A person who posts these entries is called a blogger.

A blog entry typically consists of the following:

* Title - main title, or headline, of the post.
* Body - main content of the post.
* Permalink - the URL of the full, individual article.
* Post Date - date and time the post was published.

A blog entry optionally includes the following:

* Comments - comments added by readers
* Categories (or tags) - subjects that the entry discusses
* Trackback and or pingback - links to other sites that refer to the entry

Alongside the regularly updated entries, a blog site often has a less-frequently-updated list of links, or blogroll, of other blogs that the author reads; and/or, with whom he or she affiliates.

It is common for blogs to contain advertising in the form of AdWords. Popular blogs can generate significant revenue by this means, and also via banner ads and referral fees for promotion of items on commercial websites such as Amazon.com.
History
Precursors

Electronic communities existed before internetworking. For example the AP wire was, in effect, similar to a large chat room with "wire fights" and electronic conversations. Another pre-digital electronic community, amateur (or "ham") radio, allowed individuals who set up their own transmitters to communicate with others directly.

Before blogging became popular, digital communities took many forms, including Usenet, e-mail lists and bulletin board systems (BBS). In the 1990s Internet forum software, such as WebEx, created running conversations with "threads." Threads are topical connections between messages on a metaphorical "corkboard." See "Common terms," below.

The modern blog evolved from the online diary where people would keep a running account of their personal lives. The first of these started in 1994. Most of the writers called themselves diarists, journalists, journallers, or journalers. A few called themselves escribitionists. The Open Pages webring included members of the online-journal community.

Other forms of journals kept online also existed. A notable example was game programmer John Carmack's widely read journal, published via the finger protocol.

Websites, including both corporate sites and personal homepages, had and still often have "What's New" or "News" sections, often on the index page and sorted by date.

One noteworthy early precursor to a blog was the tongue-in-cheek personal website that was frequently updated by Usenet legend Kibo.
Blogging appears

The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz. He broke the word weblog into the phrase "we blog" in the sidebar of his weblog in April or May of 1999. "Blog" was accepted as a noun (weblog shortened) and as a verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog").

Justin Hall, who began eleven years of personal "blogging" in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College, is generally recognized as one of the earliest bloggers . After a slow start, blogging rapidly gained in popularity: the site Xanga, launched in 1996, had only 100 diaries by 1997, and over 50 000 000 as of December 2005. Blog usage spread during 1999 and the years following, being further popularized by the near-simultaneous arrival of the first hosted blog tools:

* Open Diary launched in October 1998, soon growing to thousands of online diaries. Open Diary innovated the reader comment, becoming the first blog community where readers could add comments to other writers' blog entries.
* Brad Fitzpatrick started LiveJournal in March 1999.
* Andrew Smales's projects: Pitas.com created in July 1999 (as an easier alternative to maintaining a 'news page' on a website), and Diaryland, created in September 1999 (focusing more on a personal diary community)
* Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan (Pyra Labs) launched Blogger.com in August 1999 (purchased by Google in February 2003)
* Paul Kedrosky's GrokSoup

Blogging combined the personal web page with tools to make linking to other pages easier — specifically permalinks blogrolls and TrackBacks. This, together with weblog search engines enabled bloggers to track the threads that connected them to others with similar interests.
Blogging gains influence

The first broadly popular American blogs emerged in 2001: Andrew Sullivan's AndrewSullivan.com, Ron Gunzburger's Politics1.com, Taegan Goddard's Political Wire and Jerome Armstrong's MyDD—all blogging primarily on politics.

In 1999, then owner of popular technology review portal, The Review Center, John Guilfoil theorized that daily, and often multi-daily updates instead of the often used weekly news updates seen throughout the technology reviews world would soon be needed in order for these web sites to survive. He suggested that shorter, more pointed news updates in the theme of livejournal.com, which was then a fledging blog site, would be necessary across the board. This revolution in up-to-the-minute updating and real-time news updates has led to the evolutionary shutdown of countless amateur technology web sites.

By 2001, blogging was enough of a phenomenon that how-to manuals began to appear, primarily focusing on technique. The importance of the blogging community (and its relationship to larger society) gained rapidly increasing importance. Established schools of journalism began researching blogging and noting the differences between journalism and blogging.

In 2002, Jerome Armstrong's friend and sometime partner Markos Moulitsas Zúniga began DailyKos. With up to a million visits a day during peak events, it has now become one of the Internet's most trafficked blogs.

Also in 2002, many blogs focused on comments by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Senator Lott, at a party honoring U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, praised Senator Thurmond by suggesting that the United States would have been better off had Thurmond been elected president. Lott's critics saw these comments as a tacit approval of racial segregation, a policy advocated by Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign. This view was reinforced by documents and recorded interviews dug up by bloggers. (See Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.) Though Lott's comments were made at a public event attended by the media, no major media organizations reported on his controversial comments until after blogs broke the story. Blogging helped to create a political crisis that forced Lott to step down as majority leader.

The shaping of this story gave greater credibility to blogs as a medium of news dissemination. Though often seen as partisan gossips, bloggers sometimes lead the way in bringing key information to public light. This puts the mainstream media in the unusual position of reacting to news that bloggers generate.

Since 2003, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping, and spinning news stories. The Iraq war saw both left-wing and right-wing bloggers taking measured and passionate points of view that did not reflect the traditional left-right divide.

Blogging by established politicians and political candidates, to express opinions on war and other issues, cemented blogs' role as a news source. (See Howard Dean and Wesley Clark.) Meanwhile, an increasing number of experts blogged, making blogs a source of in-depth analysis. (See Daniel Drezner and J. Bradford DeLong.)

The second Iraq war was the first "blog war" in another way: Iraqi bloggers gained wide readership, and one, Salam Pax, published a book of his blog. Blogs were also created by soldiers serving in the Iraq war. Such "milblogs" gave readers new perspectives on the realities of war, as well as often offering different viewpoints from those of official news sources.

Blogging was used to draw attention to obscure news sources. For example, bloggers posted links to traffic cameras in Madrid as a huge anti-terrorism demonstration filled the streets in the wake of the March 11 attacks.

Bloggers began to provide nearly-instant commentary on televised events, creating a secondary meaning of the word "blogging": to simultaneously transcribe and editorialize speeches and events shown on television. (For example, "I am blogging Rice's testimony" means "I am posting my reactions to Condoleezza Rice's testimony into my blog as I watch her on television.") Real-time commentary is sometimes referred to as "liveblogging."
Blogging gains popularity

In 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Even politicians not actively campaigning, such as MP Tom Watson of the UK Labour Party, began to blog to bond with constituents.

Minnesota Public Radio broadcast a program by Christopher Lydon and Matt Stoller called "The Blogging of the President," which covered a transformation in politics that blogging seemed to presage. The Columbia Journalism Review began regular coverage of blogs and blogging. Anthologies of blog pieces reached print, and blogging personalities began appearing on radio and television. In the summer of 2004, both (America's Democratic and Republican) parties' conventions credentialed bloggers, and blogs became a standard part of the publicity arsenal. Mainstream television programs, such as Chris Matthews' Hardball, formed their own blogs. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary declared "blog" as the word of the year in 2004. (Wikinews)

Blogs were among the driving forces behind the "Rathergate" scandal. To wit: (television journalist) Dan Rather presented documents (on the CBS show 60 Minutes) that conflicted with accepted accounts of President Bush's military service record. Conservative bloggers declared the documents to be forgeries and presented arguments in support of that view, and CBS apologized for what it said were inadequate reporting techniques. (See Little Green Footballs.) Many bloggers view this scandal as the advent of blogs' acceptance by the mass media, both as a source of news and opinion and as means of applying political pressure.

Some bloggers have moved over to other media. The following bloggers (and others) have appeared on radio and television: Duncan Black (known widely by his pseudonym, Atrios), Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) , Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (Daily Kos), and Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette). Hugh Hewitt is an example of a media personality who has moved in the other direction, adding to his reach in "old media" by being an influential blogger.

Some blogs were an important source of news during the December 2004 Tsunami such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, which used SMS text messaging to report from affected areas in Sri Lanka and Southern India.

In the United Kingdom, The Guardian newspaper launched a redesign in September 2005, which included a daily digest of blogs on page 2.

In January 2005, Fortune magazine listed eight bloggers that business people "could not ignore": Peter Rojas, Xeni Jardin, Ben Trott, Mena Trott, Jonathan Schwartz, Jason Goldman, Robert Scoble, and Jason Calacanis.

Blog popularity dynamics

Recently, scientists have analyzed the dynamics of how blogs become popular. There are essentially two measures of this: popularity through citations (i.e. permalinks), as well as popularity through affiliation (i.e. blogroll). The basic conclusion from studies of the structure of blogs is that while in order for a blog to become popular through blogrolls takes a fair amount of time, permalinks can accumulate more quickly, and are perhaps more indicative of popularity and authority than blogrolls, since they denote that people are actually reading the blog's content and deem it valuable or noteworthy in specific cases.

The Blogdex project was launched by researchers in the MIT Media Lab to crawl the web and gather data from thousands of blogs in order to investigate their social properties. It has now been gathering this information for over 4 years, and currently autonomously tracks the most contagious information spreading in the blog community.
Blogging and the mass media

Many bloggers differentiate themselves from the mainstream media, while others are members of that media working through a different channel. Some institutions see blogging as a means of "getting around the filter" and pushing messages directly to the public. Some critics worry that bloggers respect neither copyright nor the role of the mass media in presenting society with credible news.

Bloggers' credibility problem, however, can be an advantage for the bloggers and for the mainstream journalists who take an interest in them. News organizations are sometimes reluctant to tell stories that will upset important people. But when bloggers or activists make sensational claims, then they become stories themselves, and journalists can use them as cover for reporting the underlying scandals.

Blogs have also had an influence on minority languages, bringing together scattered speakers and learners; this is particularly so with Gaelic blogs, whose creators can be found as far away from traditional Gaelic areas as Kazakhstan and Alaska. Blogs are also used regularly by Welsh language activists. Minority language publishing (which may lack economic feasibility) can find its audience through inexpensive blogging.
How blogs are made

A variety of different systems are used to create and maintain blogs. Dedicated server-based systems can eliminate the need for bloggers to manage this software. With web interfaces, these systems allow travelers to blog from anywhere on the Internet, and allow users to create blogs without having to maintain their own server. Such systems allow users to work with tools such as Ecto, Elicit and w.bloggar which allow users to maintain their Web-hosted blog without the need to be online while composing or editing posts. Blog creation tools and blog hosting are also provided by some Web hosting companies (Tripod), Internet service providers (America Online), online publications (Salon.com) and internet portals (Yahoo! 360º or Google). Some advanced users have developed custom blogging systems from scratch using server-side software, and often implement membership management and password protected areas. Others have created blogs using wiki software, such as the Mediawiki platform.

Types of blogs

The technology of the weblog allows for a very wide range of possible uses. This is a partial selection and it should be noted that many weblogs combine several uses.
Business

Business blog

The stock market is a popular subject of blogging. Both amateur and professional investors use blogs to share stock tips.

Business blogs are used to promote and defame businesses, to argue economic concepts, to disseminate information, and more.

Clog (or community blog)

A Community Blog or "Clog" is a online-community web forum based on an actual physical community in the real world. They are similar to collaborative blogs in so far as that they are written by more than one person and often about a specific topic. However, a clog differs from a Collaborative blog in that user access to join in and publish is not limited. In other words, anyone in the real community may go online and contribute to the clog. Clogs are ideal for people who want to talk to each other about where they live and what that means to them.

The term clog was coined by Seamus Byrne to describe the purpose and concept of The Organic City Project a community blog for people from Oakland, California to share stories about their neighborhoods.
Clubbox

Clubbox

A clubbox is a type of blog prevalent in East Asia where the owner, upon paying a monthly fee, can post daily personal entries, pictures, and videos and usually has a large amount of bandwidth to share.

Collaborative

Many blogs are written by more than one person (often about a specific topic). Collaborative blogs can be open to everyone or limited to a group of people. MetaFilter is an example.

Slashdot, whose status as a blog has been debated, has a team of editors who approve and post links to technology news stories throughout the day. Although Slashdot does not refer to itself as a blog, it shares some characteristics with blogs.

Indymedia is an early (1999) example of a collaborative blog (although the term blog wasn't in circulation then). It was created to cover a specific event (the WTO in Seattle) but has since spread around the world.

Blogcritics has roots as a collaborative blog, but now styles itself an online magazine. The site has evolved since its inception in 2002 from an anything-goes group blog to a heavily edited media organization.

Cultural

Cultural blog

Cultural blogs discuss music, sports, theater, other arts, and popular culture.
Directory

Directory blogs provide regularly-updated links to topics of interest. Directory blogs are usually focused on a particular news topic.

Directory blogs are not "blog directories." Blog directories (and search engines used for blogging) have organization and automation, characteristics not typical of directory blogs.
Educational

There are many and varied uses of blogs in education. Educational uses of blogs include:

(1) Journals of school excursions. If the excursion takes place abroad and one of its purposes is to learn a foreign language, then the students may be encouraged to put together an electronic “scrapbook” in the foreign language, including texts that they have written and photographs and audio/video recordings.

(2) Online courses in which the teacher sets the tasks and receives the coursework from the students. These may be “open” courses and viewable by the public or “closed” courses aimed at a specific group of students. “Open” blogs can motivate students, encouraging them to improve their writing style due to the presence of other viewers. Such blogs may include Internet resources specified by the teacher and day-by-day records of what the students have learned.

(3) Webquests.

(4) Teacher training materials and hints and tips on using new technologies in the classroom.

(5) School and college newsletters.

See: The Modern Foreign Languages Environment (Scotland): http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/mfle/creativeteaching/blogging/studentswhyblog.asp

The Times Educational Supplement (UK): http://www.tes.co.uk/blogs/
Forum

An Internet Forum is, technically speaking, not a blog but a blog can function as an Internet forum (also known as a Discussion List). An Internet forum or blog may limit contributions to people who have registered as subscribers or they may be completely open to anyone who wishes to contribute. Both may be public, i.e. viewable on the Web, or private, i.e. viewable only via a password or on an intranet. The essential difference between a blog and a forum is that a blog allows easy uploading of new contributions, usually via a simple Web form, whereas a forum may use a Web form or invite contributions via standard email packages and use email to distribute new contributions to subscribers. However, such differences are not cast in stone. The distinction between blogs and fora is sometimes blurred. Sites such as Slashdot, Indymedia and Daily Kos combine elements of the two.

Business professionals often use Content Management Systems to enable cooperation when making documents.

Link

A link blog is a way to share interesting links (URLs). Link blogs often reference other blog entries and web sites without commentary on the subject matter.


Moblog

A Moblog, or mobile blog, consists of content posted to the Internet from a mobile phone (i.e., cellular telephone) or a personal digital assistant (PDA). Moblogs may require special software.
Paid

This individual(s) is paid on behalf on an employer as a full time or contract basis for the absolute sole purpose to blog on behalf of the company. This can be done to build buzz, promote the company, or to raise search engine relevancy.

Personal Blogs

Online diary

In common speech, the term blog is often used to describe an online diary or journal, such as LiveJournal which was one of the earliest uses of blogs. The blog format allows inexperienced computer users to make diary entries with ease. People blog poems, prose, illicit thoughts, complaints, daily experiences, and more, often allowing others to contribute. In 2001, mainstream awareness of online diaries increased dramatically.

Online diaries are part of the daily lives of many teenagers and college students. Friends use blogs to communicate with each other, keeping each other up-to-date with events and thoughts in a non-intrusive manner. The appeal of this form of communication is that the recipient can read whenever it is convenient, and the writer does not need to remember who still needs to be updated with certain pieces of information - it is there, waiting, for whenever people wish to read it.

Popular online destinations for personal blogs include social networking sites such as MySpace and Xanga.



Photoblog

Photoblogs consist of a gallery of images published regularly. Text following the image can be just as important, or not important at all, depending on the user.



Political blog

Political blogs receive an increasing amount of media and academic attention - particularly in the US , though only a small minority of webloggers produce predominantly political blogs . Most political blogs are news driven, and as such political bloggers will link to articles from news web sites, often adding their own comments as well. Other political blogs heavily feature original commentary, with occasional hyperlinks to back up the blogger's talking points. These blogs have often come under fire for poor fact checking. A warblog is a weblog devoted mostly or wholly to covering news events concerning an ongoing war. Sometimes the use of the term "warblog" implies that the blog concerned has a pro-war slant.

Professional or career

A Professional or Career blog is focused on an individuals professional focus, craft, or passion. Although the topics are narrowly focused on one's profession, it has few ties to their employer, or makes no references to their employer. This career blog will stay with the blogger, even as they cross several jobs.

This type of blog is used to dictate a professional journey, demonstrate expertise, or network out to other professionals.

Science

Science blog

Scientists have mixed feelings about blogging: while some see it as an excellent new way to disseminate and discuss data, others fear that blogs (and other informal means of publication) could damage the credibility of science by bypassing the peer review system.

Sketch

Sketchblogs are blogs where an artist or a group of artists mainly post different sketches and other types of visual art on a regular basis. With these blogs the emphasis goes rather to these images than to words.

Social blogs

Social blogs have had a relatively slow start. However, they find increasing popularity and may very well appear as the next major contributor to the blogging community.

Spam blog

Spam blogs (splogs) are a form of high-pressure advertising. Like spam e-mails, splogs are characterized by bold lettering and outrageous claims. Affiliated splogs often link to each other to increase their Internet presence. (See PageRank.)

Topical blog

Topical blogs focus on a niche. For example, the Google Blog covers nothing but news about Google.

A blog may fit more than one topical category or may be both topical and general. Blog directories must manage the needs of bloggers, who want to increase readership, and readers, who want relevant search results.

Local blogs are a type of topical blog. Neighborhood reporting is ideal for blogging: Locals are the best witnesses of local events.


Travel blog

Travel blogs or journals are one of the web's most popular types of blogs as people love to share their vacation stories and photos with friends, family and the web community as a whole. They are also a great way for traveler's to stay in touch with people back home, especially when traveling for extended periods.

Many bloggers simply create their own blog using any of the standard blogging software but many sites have popped up offering specialized services for users to create their own travel blogs and share their photos.

Information courtesy - Answers.com . Wikipedia.org, google.com

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