‘Blog’ is Internet lingo for a ‘Web log’. As the name suggests, it’s for logging your activities on the Net, something like your personal Web diary. To put it more elaborately, a blog is a Web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles (usually in reverse chronological order). Although most early Web logs were manually updated, tools to automate the maintenance of such sites made them accessible to a much larger population, and the use of somesort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of‘blogging’.
Blogs cover a wide range of topics, from individual diaries to political campaigns, media programs, and even audio updates like a radio station. A blog may be authored by a single individual or by a collaboration of a large community of writers. Sites such as Gizmodo.com are essentially blogs. Many blogs enable visitors to leave public comments, which can lead to a community of readers centred on the blog. Like any technological community, the bloggers’ community, too, has developed a language of its own. The totality of Web logs or blog-related Web sites is often called the blogosphere.
When a large amount of activity, information and opinion erupts around a particular subject or controversy in the blogosphere,it is sometimes called a blogstorm or blog swarm. So who were the precursors of these phenomena? Electronic communities existed before internetworking. For example, the Associated Press newswire 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’, which were personal diaries made using wearable computers in the early 1980s.
Before blogging became popular, digital communities took many forms, including Usenet, e-mail lists and bulletin boards. In the 1990s, Internet forum software such as WebX created running conversations with threads. Many of the terms from Web logging were created in these earlier media. The term ‘Weblog’ was coined by Jorn Barger in 1997. The shorter version, ‘blog’, was coined by Peter Merholz. One of the most popular blogging tools, Blogger, was developed at around this time by Pyra Labs. Google purchased this sometime in 2003 and launched blogspot.com, one of the world’s most extensively used blog sites.
Blogging rose to major prominence during the aftermath of the tsunami that struck South-east Asia in December 2004. A number of relief operations were co-ordinated using blogs. This led to blogs gaining prominent media status. The idea of distributed journalism also caught on because of this.
Blogging today is something as common as using e-mail. Moreover, a number of news sources are looking at tapping the ever-increasing number of journalists who use their blogs as points for dispensing information.