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Exploring the blogging experience

Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 18:11


When surfing the Web, what do you look at? Your e-mail, Facebook perhaps, YouTube, or even porn? Ok, maybe not that last one, but who knows. Well, regardless of your preferred viewing sites, you probably have this in common with the random person sitting next to you on the bus or in class—you both either have a blog of your own, or you enjoy following someone else’s.

First of all, so we’re on the same page, what exactly is a blog? Wikipedia says that it’s a website “usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.” Basically, a blog is an online journal. Some of them have specific topics they deal with, and the posts are usually arranged in chronological order with the newest posts first.

The word “blog” is a combination of the terms “web log.” It was first coined by Peter Merholz in 1999 on his own blog,, when he separated “web log” into “we blog.” Thus, “blog” became a noun—for the actual website—and a verb for the action of making posts for the website, also known as “blogging.” The people who take part in this action are called “bloggers.” A very minimalist vocabulary of terms, to be sure.

Weblogs began gaining popularity in the late ‘90s and early 2000s with the creation of online blog tools such as Open Diary, LiveJournal, and that made it easy for the average person to create and maintain a blog of their own.

Since 2002, blogging has had a major role in the covering, breaking, and spinning of news stories for modern journalists. Weblogs provided a way for people to analyze situations such as U.S.-Israeli relations and the Iraq War in a more in-depth way, and bloggers started making passionate points that differed from the traditional left-right ideals. Blogs began to occupy a large role in shaping public opinion on political matters, and some may even argue that they have the ability to sway elections based on their content and who reads them.

 Today, blogging can be separated into categories based not only on the content of the site, but by how that content is delivered and by whom. The personal blog is perhaps the most popular form used today. It is created by an individual and is usually used as an online diary as a way to comment or reflect on one’s own life. A personal microblog, such as Twitter, allows one to share minute-by-minute thoughts and events during the day. The microblog has become increasingly popular since cell phones began having Internet capability. This gave people instantaneous access to the Web.

Not only are blogs used for private, individual purposes, but they can be used for professional companies and organizations as well. Corporate blogs have become popular as a means of maintaining communication internally between associates within a business. However, corporate blogs are also used externally for marketing, branding, and public relations purposes. Similarly, Organizational blogs are used by clubs and societies to inform members and interested parties about meetings and activities for that particular group.

Blogs are also categorized by genre when they deal with a particular subject like travel, fashion, movie reviews, etc. Two of the most common types of genre blogs are art blogs and music blogs. The blog, Music (For Robots), was started by a group of college students with diverse tastes in music in 2004. The blog featured different bands that the founders had discovered and wanted to promote. Music (For Robots)’s fame grew over the years and has been featured in big name publications such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly.

Another way of categorizing blogs is by media type. Those that are comprised of videos or video links are called “vlogs.” However, some video bloggers, like Brigitte Dale, dislike the term because it “tastes bad.” A blog comprised of photography is called a “photoblog,” and a blog of mixed media types is called a “tumblelog.” Tumblr is an excellent blog tool site for those who prefer to use mixed media types for their posts.

Whatever you choose to put in the content of your blog, it’s important to keep your personal safety in mind. Although the Internet is an excellent way to make your opinions heard and to find others who may share those opinions, remember that not everyone has your best interests at heart. Threats or attacks against the blogger, even for no apparent reason, are potential consequences of blogging. The occurrence of this is often heightened by the anonymity that the Internet provides.

Kathy Sierra, author of the blog Creating Passionate Users, was the target of such brutal and misogynistic threats. The threats scared her in such a way that she was forced to cancel an important speech at a technology conference in San Diego, because she felt that her safety was compromised. As a result, she and some supporters started a movement to counter abusive online behavior and developed the Blogger’s Code of Conduct. This promotes the safety of users by establishing what is and is not acceptable behavior in the blogging world. 

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