What is a blog? Blog is short for weblog. Blogger.com defines a blog/weblog as, “a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically - like a what’s new page or a journal. The content and purposes of blogs varies greatly - from links and commentary about other web sites, to news about a company/person/idea, to diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction.”
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Blogs are essentially evolution of Internet communications. E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroups and forums are all great forms of communication but a weblog or blog offers unique, personal communication on a global scale. Also, blogs have become increasing simple to implement and there are numerous “turn-key” solutions to creating a blog. The weblog’s ease of use is a key factor in their increasing popularity. Not only can blogs be easy to setup they are easy to maintain and update. Once a blog is created adding content can be as simple as typing and sending an e-mail. The ease of use of blogs is probably the key reason for their rampant popularity. However, their ease of use could be their demise.
Blogs are so incredibly easy to setup and maintain that literally anyone can start one. This is good and bad. Someone might not even have to know how to write HTML and could easily start a blog. Someone might not know a single thing about web page design and can start a blog. The fact that a language had to be learned to create a personal home page kept their numbers under control to a certain extent. No one has to know more than how to use their favorite web browser to setup and contribute to a weblog in some cases. This has made them popular but this has also given blogs a bad rap because anyone, even the thirteen year old down the street, can have a blog. If a blog is to journal ones life it can be interesting, but if no one is reading the weblog other than the person writing in it that blog has entered into the Internet waste category. Blogs have gotten a bad name due to the fact that most of the people creating blogs are in the 13 to 21 year old age group and they aren’t writing anything more dynamic than their life doings and links to web sites they find interesting. Blogs of this nature are good for unique communication between small groups of people but are a form of overkill in terms of amount of potential exposure.
Another reason blogs have gotten a bad name is because of the excessive ranting and raving and unsupported opinions that can often be found in them. Ranting about your experience with the cashier at your local grocery store could benefit people frequenting that store but rarely benefits anyone but the person writing the rant as a form of stress relief. The personal, ego-boosting effects a blog can have on individuals trying to make a name for themselves is a very interesting concept. Much like the days of personal home page popularity, “I have a blog” has become a typical saying of people on the Internet and in real life. It has become a faddish form of creating an identity on the World Wide Web. Much like reality TV has flooded our TV sets; blogs have flooded the World Wide Web. Some search engines have started filtering blogs and weblogs out of their search results to due their overwhelming lack of resourceful and often duplicate content.
With all that being said, blogs and weblogs do have a very unique capability to lower publishing costs. One example would be the professor constantly writing about his particular subject matter. Instead of writing a book and finding someone to publish it, that professor can write individual thoughts and have feedback on those thoughts all in one place. That professor can then have an open discussion and interact with a series of global subject matter experts. That same theory can hold true for the story writer. A writer can refine their abilities in blogs and can have constructive criticism issued to them almost instantly. Blogs are also a great way to keep up on news. From local news to international news the blogs chronological formatting and archival abilities are a perfect fit for a news service.
However, blogs will still be a fad until the current generation of webloggers starts blogging about topics that matter to a larger number of people or until more professional blogs are created. Weblogs fill a certain niche in the Internet community if they are very specific about their subject. When a weblog covers too many topics their worth is lowered to a certain extent. A web site with multiple sections and subdomains can easily be broken up into manageable, searchable pieces. A blog, by nature, is difficult to break up so posting a blurb about French-American relations followed by a post regarding the death of Apple Computers isn’t advised because a niche becomes difficult to establish.
Blogs are a natural evolution of communications that have a purpose on the World Wide Web. Weblogs provide quick, easy to use, low cost, interactive, global communication. However, that purpose has been stretched to encompass so many uses it has given weblogs a bad name. One can only hope the fad wears away into factual, meaningful, worthwhile mountains of content that would be available to the world.