‘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.
Sites such as 5paisaonline.com and ICICIDirect.com let you sell and buy shares online. All you need to do is open a trading account with them. The Internet also allows you to buy and sell shares live as the market moves without the help of the broker. All you have to do is install software from a broking house such as Sharekhan, and lo and behold, you have a trading terminal. You can now go and make those much-desired millions or lose all your money to the vagaries of the stock market.
Gaming on the Internet, as of today, is restricted largely to Flash-based games or simple arcade games of the ‘80s. Sites such as Addictinggames.com and Liquidgeneration.com give a wide variety of games to choose from. Most of these games, at best, are stress relievers or two-minute shootouts.
The idea of making a game to promote a movie or a product has caught on in India only recently, with sites such as Hungama.com and C2W.com creating these customised games. Most of these can be played online. Sites such as Indiagames.com and Mauj.com, too, are exclusive gaming sites from where you can download games both onto your computer as well as your mobile phone.
Gamer communities also populate the Net, most of them giving out cheat codes and walkthroughs for the games available in the market. You will also get CD cracks for almost all games around, and even though it’s illegal, everyone has searched for those at some point or the other.
Multi Player Online Gaming—and by online, we mean the Internet, not a LAN—is yet to take off in many countries, and no prizes for guessing the reason: no broadband. Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming sites such as Ogaming.com are aimed at giving the hardcore gamer, armed with broadband and a powerhouse PC, a chance to pit his skills against some of the best from around the globe.
Imagine the Internet being just a scientific tool. No bells and whistles, no movies and music. No games and no interesting software to download. Just scientific network. Well, that’s what it started off as, and if it hadn’t been for all the music and movies and gamesavailable on it, the Net would have lived out its entire life in relative obscurity.We all know that sharing music illegally has been clamped down on hard; we’ve all seen Napster being hauled into court and then destroyed. We’ve also caught on to the lure of applications such as BitTorrent that lets us share our files with peers. Most of the shared files are music, movies or videos.
It’s a forgone conclusion that entertainment is a must for any medium to survive. A television that aired only documentaries and news would not catch on to the general population. The Internet today has become this vast database of most things under the sun. Movies, video clips, sound bytes, music. You name it, and the Net will have scores of sites offering these, some of them legally for a price, some illegally.
Entertainment: The Cornerstone Of The Internet Online radio stations by portals such as Yahoo! with their Launchcast service, too, are attracting customers. These services are free if you subscribe for a basic version—you can always pay for the more advanced, customisable ones. New technologies such as Apple’s iTunes music download service, and Podcasting, too, give you your daily dose of entertainment off the Net. However, entertainment on the Internet, a la television,is yet to kick off due to bandwidth and revenue model issues.
Who would want to catch their daily soap on the Net where it would get chopped halfway due to a bad connection? The gaming industry, too, is waiting for ISPs to resolve the issues concerning supplying the user with static broadband. Once that is taken care of, you can be assured of a shoot fest, a movie, and the news all streaming into your home PC.