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Weblog

(Redirected from Blog)
This article is about a type of web application. For information on records of web server activity, see server log.

A weblog, Web log or simply a blog, is a web application which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage. Such a Web site would typically be accessible to any Internet user. The term "blog" came into common use as a way of avoiding confusion with the term server log.

Blogs run from individual diaries to arms of political campaigns, media programs and corporations, and from one occasional author to having large communities of writers. Some are maintained by single authors, while others have multiple authors. Many weblogs enable visitors to leave public comments, which can lead to a community of readers centered around the blog; others are non-interactive. The totality of weblogs or blog-related websites is usually called the blogosphere.

The format of weblogs varies, from simple bullet lists of hyperlinks, to article summaries with user-provided comments and ratings. Individual weblog entries are almost always date and time-stamped, with the newest post at the top of the page. Because links are so important to weblogs, most blogs have a way of archiving older entries and generating a static address for individual entries; this static link is referred to as a permalink. The latest headlines, with hyperlinks and summaries, are offered in weblogs in the RSS or Atom XML-format, to be read with a feed reader.

A weblog is often run through a content management system or CMS.

Contents

History

Precursors

  • Electronic communities existed before internetworking. For example the AP wire was, in effect, similar to a large chat room where there were "wire fights" and electronic conversations. Another pre-digital electronic community Amateur (or "ham") radio allowed individuals who set up their own broadcast equipment to communicate with others directly. Ham radio also had logs called "glogs" that were personal diaries made using wearable computers in the early 1980s.
  • Before blogging became popular, digital communities took many forms, including Usenet, email lists and bulletin boards. In the 1990's Internet forum software, such as WebX, created running conversations with threads. Many of the terms from weblogging were created in these earlier media.

For example, "troll" as a person who disrupts a discussion by posting messages to trick other users into reacting in hostility or aggravation, dates back to Usenet.

"Thread," in reference to consecutive messages on one specific topic of discussion, comes from email lists and Usenet as well, and "to post" from electronic bulletin boards, borrowing usage directly from their corkboard predecessors.

Blogging begins

Blogging combined the personal web page with tools to make linking to other pages easier, specifically blogrolls and trackbacks, as well as comments. This way, instead of a few people being in control of threads on a forum, or anyone able to start threads on a list, there was a moderating effect that was the personality of the weblog's owner.

The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger in December 1997.

"Weblogs are often-updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments, and to on-site articles. A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide [whom] you get to know. There are many guides to choose from and each develops an audience. There's camaraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs. They point to each other in all kinds of structures, graphs, loops, etc." -- Dave Winer, [1] http://newhome.weblogs.com/historyOfWeblogs

The shorter version, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz who in April or May of 1999 broke the word weblog into the phrase "we blog" in the sidebar of his weblog [2] http://www.peterme.com/archives/00000205.html . This was interpreted as a short form of the noun [3] http://www.bradlands.com/weblog/1999-09.shtml#September%2010,%201999 and also as a verb, to blog, meaning "to edit one's weblog or a post to one's weblog." Usage spread during 1999, with the word being further popularized by the near-simultaneous arrival of the first hosted weblog tools: Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan's company Pyra launched Blogger (which was purchased by Google) and Paul Kedrosky 's GrokSoup . As of March 2003, the Oxford English Dictionary included the terms weblog, weblogging and weblogger in their dictionary. [4] http://www.oed.com/help/updates/motswana-mussy.html

One of the pioneers of the tools that make blogging more than merely websites that scroll is Dave Winer. One of his most important contributions was the creation of servers which weblogs would ping to show that they had updated. Blog reading utilities, such as Blogrolling [5] http://www.blogrolling.com/ , use the aggregated update data to show a user when their favorite blogs have new posts..

Blogging's rise to influence

In early 2002, blogs began to spring up to support the invasion of Iraq. These "war bloggers" were primarily from the right end of the political spectrum, and included Instapundit. The first "blog"-driven controversy is probably associated with the fall of Trent Lott, where bloggers found quotes from his previous speeches which were taken to be racist, and "kept the story alive" in the press.

By this point blogging was enough of a phenomenon that how-to manuals had begun to appear, primarily focusing on using the tools, or creating content. But the importance of a blog as a way of building an electronic community had also been written on, as had the potential for blogs as a means of publicizing other projects.

Through 2003, weblogs gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping or spinning news stories. The triggering event was the sudden emergence of an opposition to the Iraq war which was not rooted in the traditional anti-war left. The blogs which gathered news on Iraq, both left and right, exploded in popularity, and Forbes magazine covered the phenomenon. The use of blogs by political candidates, particularly Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, cemented their role as a news source, while the increasing number of experts who blogged, including Daniel Drezner and J. Bradford DeLong gave the blog world a cachet among regular journalists. The Adam Smith Institute's entering of the blogosphere helped blogs become a regular stop of UK politicians and opinion-formers.

The Iraq War was the first "blog war" in another way: bloggers in Baghdad gained wider readership, and one (Salam Pax) published a book of his blog. Blogs also arose amongst soldiers serving in the Iraq war. Such milblogs have become the modern version of a war correspondent. Reading the thoughts of people who were "on the spot" provided a counterpoint, if not a counterweight, to official news sources. Blogs were often used to draw attention to obscure news sources, for example posting links to the traffic cameras in Madrid as a huge anti-terrorism demonstration filled the streets in the wake of the M11 attacks. Bloggers would often provide nearly instant commentary on televised events, which became a secondary meaning of the word "blogging," such as "I am blogging Rice's testimony," i.e. "I am posting my reactions to Rice's testimony to my blog as I watch it."

Blogging goes mainstream

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 formation. Minnesota Public Radio broadcast a program by Christopher Lydon and Matt Stoller called "The Blogging of the President," which covered the transformation in politics that blogging seemed to presage. The Columbia Journalism Review began regular coverage of blogs and blogging. Anthologies of blog pieces began to reach print, and blogging personalities began appearing on radio and television. In the summer of that year both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions credentialed bloggers, and blogs became a standard part of the publicity arsenal, with mainstream programs, such as Chris Matthews' "Hardball ," forming their own blogs. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary declared "Blog" as the word of the year in 2004. (Wikinews http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Blog_declared_Word_of_the_Year )

Blogs were some of the driving forces behind the Rathergate scandal involving Dan Rather of CBS and some memos addressed in the show 60 Minutes II. Within 72 hours a coordinated group of bloggers had built a case that they were likely forgeries, even though the White House had stated that they seemed potentially genuine. The evidence presented eventually created such concern over the issue that CBS was forced to address the situation and make an apology for inadequate reporting techniques. This is viewed by many right wing bloggers as the point of blogs' acceptance, or rejection, depending on opinion by the mass media as a source of news. It also showed how blogs could keep the pressure on an established news source, forcing defenses and then a retraction of the original story.

Blogging is also used now to break consumer complaints and vulnerabilities of products, in the way that usenet and email lists once did. One example is the the vulnerability of Kryptonite 2000 locks, among many others. Slashdot is one particularly influential technology blog which often breaks stories on exploits of computer security vulnerabilities.

Bloggers have also moved over to other media. Atrios, Glenn Reynolds and Markos Moulitas-Zuniga appear on the radio, and Ana Marie Cox, better known as Wonkette, appears on television. 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.

In January of 2005, Fortune magazine listed Xeni Jardin, Ben Trott and Mena Trott , Jonathan Schwartz , Jason Goldman , Robert Scoble , and Jason Calacanis as 8 Bloggers that business people "could not ignore".

Blogging and Culture

Blogging however, was as much about technology as politics, and the proliferation of tools to run blogs and the communities around them connected blogging with the Open Source movement. Writers such as Larry Lessig and David Weinberger used their blogs to promote not just blogging in specific, but different social models in general. One of the running discussions within journalism and blogging is what "blogging" means for the way news "happens" and is covered. This leads to questions over intellectual property and the role of the mass media in society. Many bloggers differentiate themselves from the mainstream media , while others are members of that media working through a different channel.

Creating and publishing weblogs

Since their introduction, a number of software packages have appeared to allow people to create their own weblog. Blog hosting sites and Web services to provide editing via the Web have proliferated. Common examples include GreatestJournal, BlogSome http://www.blogsome.com , Pitas, Blog.com , Blogger, TypePad http://www.typepad.com/ , LiveJournalMSN Spaces http://spaces.msn.com/HomePage.aspx , Xanga, MojBlog.com http://www.mojblog.com , and blogigo http://www.blogigo.co.uk .

Many more advanced bloggers prefer to generate their blogs by using server-side software tools such as Movable Type, bBlog, WordPress, b2evolution, Serendipity and SnipSnap http://www.snipsnap.org to publish on their own Web site or a third party site, or to host a group of blogs for a company or school. Such programs provide greater flexibility and power, but require more knowledge. If they provide a Web interface for editing, server-based systems make it easy for travelers to create and edit text; many travelers like to produce their travelblog s from Internet cafes while they travel around the globe.

In addition, some people program their own blogs from scratch by using PHP, CGI, or other server side software. While these are much more difficult to create, they add a maximum potential for creativity.

Two features which are common to blogging are "blogrolls" and "commenting" or "feedback."

A blogroll is a list of other blogs that are linked separately from any article. This is one means by which a blogger creates a context for his blog, by listing other blogs that are similar to his/her own, or blogs the blogger thinks may be of relevance to users. It is also used as measure of the number of citations a blog has, and is used to rank "blog authority" in a manner similar to the way that Google uses hard coded HTML linking to create "page rank." Still another use of the "blogroll" is reciprocal linking: bloggers agree to link to each other, or link to another blog in hopes of getting a link in return.

Another central, and sometimes controversial, aspect of blogging is the use of a feedback comment system s. A comment system allows users to post their own comments on an article or "thread." Some blogs do not have comments, or have a closed commenting system which requires approval from those running the blog. For other bloggers, including several very prominent ones, comments are the crucial feature which distinguishes a "true" blog from other kinds of blogs. Commenting can either be built into the software, or added by using a service such as HaloScan. If a blog has regular comments, this is referred to as the blog's community.

Tools such as Ecto http://www.kung-foo.tv/ecto/ and w.bloggar http://wbloggar.com/ allow users to maintain their Web hosted blog without the need to be online while composing or editing posts. Enhancements to weblog technology continue to be developed, such as the TrackBack feature introduced by Movable Type in 2002 and subsequently adopted by other software companies (e.g., Userland http://backend.userland.com/trackback ) to enable automatic notification between websites of related content -- such as a post on a particular topic or one which responds to a post on another blog [6] http://www.movabletype.org/trackback/beginners/ . bBlog has gone as far as implementing threaded trackbacks on comments, and comments on trackbacks.

Blogs with features such as TrackBack are credited with complicating search engine page ranking techniques [7] http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/33366.html [8] http://www.sixapart.com/log/2003/10/its_all_about_c.shtml . Integrating these into search engines has proven to be a challenge, and has been used to deliberately "push" page rankings. However, as one Google executive remarked, it is the search engine's job to find the ways that a website represents a "vote" for another website.

Web hosting companies and online publications also provide blog creation tools, such as Salon http://www.salon.com/blogs , Tripod http://www.tripod.com/ , Bravenet http://www.bravenet.com/ , and America Online http://hometown.aol.com/ , which calls its subscriber blogs "journals."

Types of weblogs

Personal

Often, the word blog is used to describe an online diary or journal, such as LiveJournal. The weblog format of an online diary makes it possible for users without much experience to create, format, and post entries with ease. People write their day-to-day experiences, complaints, poems, prose, illicit thoughts and more, often allowing others to contribute, fulfilling to a certain extent Tim Berners-Lee's original view of the World Wide Web as a collaborative medium. In 2001, mainstream awareness of online diaries began to increase dramatically.

Online diaries are integrated into the daily lives of many teenagers and college students, with communications between friends playing out over their blogs. Even fights may be posted in the diaries, with not-so-veiled insults of each other easily readable by all their friends, enemies, and complete strangers.

Topical

Another common blog type is a topical blog. It focuses on a specific niche, often a technical one. (An example is a Google Blog http://www.google.com/googleblog/ , covering nothing but Google news.) Another example is a soldier blog.

Thoughtful

Where a Personal weblog is primarily concerned with daily life and events, and many topical weblogs focus on some technical topic, weblogs in the "thoughtful" category present an individual's (or a small group's) thoughts on whatever subject comes to hand; not necessarily the latest computer technology or the latest political scandal, but typically less contingent and more philosophical subjects. Thoughtful weblogs of course blur into personal weblogs on one side and topical or political ones on the other, but are distinct enough to constitute a category of their own.

FriendBlog

A FriendBlog is a distributed networked journal on the web, composed of short, frequently updated posts written by friends connected through their similar interests. The author allows his FriendBlog to connect to other FriendBlogs, belonging to friends and acquaintances, and by doing so, their posts also appears in his.

Collaborative (also collective or group)

A weblog which is written by more than one person about a specific topic. It can be either open to everyone or limited to a group of people. MetaFilter is an example of this type of weblog.

A new form of blog involves cooperation between bloggers and traditional media sources, allowing for topics discussed on the air to find legs on the Web, and vice-versa. The first and most prominent example of this form is Lone Star Times http://www.lonestartimes.com , which is affiliated with Houston talk-radio station KSEV.

Political

Another common kind of blog is a political blog. Often an individual will link to articles from news web sites and post their own comments as well. Many of these blogs comment on whatever interests the author. Some of them are more specialized. One subspecies is the watch blog, a blog which sets out to criticize what the author considers systematic errors or bias in an online newspaper or news site - or perhaps even by a more popular blogger.

Political blogs attracted attention because of their use by two insurgent political candidates in 2003: Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Both gained political buzz on the internet, and particularly among bloggers, before they were taken seriously by the establishment media as candidates. Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, made the internet a particular focus of the campaign. Both candidates stumbled in the end, but were, at one time or another, thought of as front runners for the Democratic Nomination.

In 2004, the Democrats took political blogging a major step forward by creating Blog Swarm http://blogswarm.org to coordinate the hypertext links of progressive blogs. This allowed one blog to drive traffic by harnessing the power of a full blog array.

Directory

Directory weblogs are useful for web-surfers because they often collect numerous web sites with interesting content in an easy to use and constantly updated format. News-related weblogs (such as Slashdot) can fall into this category or the previous one (political blogs).

Corporate

Increasingly, employees of corporations are posting official or semi-official blogs about their work.

Advice

Many weblogs provide expert advice, such as Microsoft technical knowledge (GaryDev http://blog.advisor.com/blog/garydev.nsf ) or fiction publishing for women (Four Chicks and a Book http://www.codexwriters.com/4chicks/ ).

Formats

Some weblogs specialise in particular forms of presentation, such as images (see web comics), or videos (see videoblog), or on a particular theme, and acronyms have been developed for some of these, such as moblogs (for "mobile" blog)

MP3 blog

One of the types of blog that has undergone rapid expansion since the year 2000 is the MP3 blog, which make audio files available to the user. MP3 blogs are normally targeted at highly specialized musical genres, such as late 60s soul music or early 90s hip-hop.

Photoblog

The increasing ubiquity of digital cameras and broadband connections has made it ever easier to post and share photos on the web. Bloggers have adapted their software to facilitate the publishing of photos, creating what is called a "photoblog". Photo sharing sites like Flickr have integrated the typical photo gallery service with photo sharing and photo blogging to create a new kind of social software.

Common terms

Blogging, like any hobby, has developed something of a specialised vocabulary. The following is an attempt to explain a few of the more common phrases and words, including etymologies when not obvious.

  • Blogorrhoea: A portmanteau of "blog" and "logorrhoea", meaning excessive and/or incoherent talkativeness in a weblog.
  • Blogsnob: A person who refuses to respond to comments on their blog from people outside their circle of friends.

See also

External links

  • Dan Gillmor's We The Media. Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/ (2004, full text online) sees blogs as paradigmatic of a new form of journalism in the digital age.
  • MeatballWiki's http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?WebLog very comprehensive article on Weblogs (particularly about their history).
  • The Largest Blog Message Board http://www.blogring.net
  • PubSub.com http://www.pubsub.com/ Tracks 8 million blogs in real time
  • Learn about weblogs http://www2.iro.umontreal.ca/~paquetse/cgi-bin/wiki.cgi?Learn_About_Weblogs on Know-how Wiki
  • Guardian: special report - weblogs http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/weblogs/
  • weblogs: a history and perspective http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html by Rebecca Blood (2000).
  • A Compendium http://www.lights.com/weblogs/tools.html of Weblog tools
  • A FAQ on Blogs http://www.andreas.com/faq-blog.html by Andreas Ramos
  • A resource on Corporate Blogging http://www.corporateblogging.info by Fredrik Wackċ
  • Technorati http://www.technorati.com/ tracks the popularity of weblogs by keeping track of links between them.
  • Blogdigger http://www.blogdigger.com is a search engine which is focused on Weblogs
  • The Blogger Manifesto (or, Do Weblogs Make the Internet Better or Worse?) http://www.periodicdiversions.com/archives/2003/09/16/the_blogger_manifesto_or_d
    o_weblogs_make_the_internet_better_or_worse.html
  • Recent blogging news stories from Topix.net http://www.topix.net/news/blogs
  • How bloggers game Google http://www.google-watch.org/gaming.html
  • A Webmaster's Blog http://www.hostbooq.blogspot.com/
  • Why Why your Movable Type blog must die http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/2/2/171117/8823
  • Google Time Bomb: Will Weblogs blow up the world's favorite search engine? http://www.microcontentnews.com/articles/googlebombs.htm
  • StudyAbroad.com produces first online interactive reality show - BlogAbroad http://www.blogabroad.com
  • BCZ.com features free blogging for online users. http://www.bcz.com
  • blog on Del.icio.us http://del.icio.us/tag/blog ( Del.icio.us )
  • popular blog on Del.icio.us http://del.icio.us/popular/blog
  • Blogger Idol http://www.breakingnewsblog.com/bloggeridol A non competitive Blogging Meme that celebrates creativity and diversity of bloggers
  • Weblog service providing: Identification of functional requirements and evaluation of existing weblog services in German and English languages http://westner.levrang.de/cms/front_content.php?idcatart=30&lang=1&client=1 , master dissertation by Markus K. Westner
  • Pro Blogger http://www.livingroom.org.au/problogger Helping Bloggers Add an Income Stream to their Blogs


Last updated: 02-05-2005 08:53:54
Last updated: 03-01-2005 21:42:45