Introduction to Blogging

I had dismissed blogging as a fad...

It took me a long time to really get blogging. I had dismissed it as a fad, for years, but became interested in moblogging, because I wanted to post short video clips from a cell phone. From moblogging, I learned more about blogging in general, and after about 6 months of reading blogs, writing blogs, and tinkering with blog technology, I think I am finally beginning to really get it. Blogs and blog technology are the biggest thing to arrive on the Internet since HTTP and HTML.

Introduction to Blog Technology

In the past 2 years blogs (a.k.a. web logs) have emerged as a powerful tool for creating relatively simple, yet powerful web sites. Millions of blogs exist with tens of millions of blog readers. Blogs have become increasingly more sophisticated in their capabilities and now easily incorporate a wide range of styles, graphic images, and photographs.

Blogs are easy to create and use web sites. They truly deliver on the Internet promise to allow anyone to create and share digital content. Blogs are the tool of choice for journalists to comment in an alternate fashion, for political commentators, for teens to talk about themselves and others, and are increasingly used inside corporations as an alternative to standard intranet portals.

The naive definition of a blog is “an online journal”. This was the first application of blogs and blog technology, but as the tools have become more sophisticated, they are being applied to a greater number of applications. Blog software has many similarities to discussion forum applications and content management systems and there are occasional debates as to what is or is not a blog. There are a handful features that generally distinguish a blog:

  • The basic unit of content is a post rather than a web page, and they are typically organized in reverse chronological order.

  • New posts can be made through a web browser or a simple desktop application called a blog editor that communicates with the blog server using XML-based web services protocols.

  • The server software provides a variety of content management tools for managing posts and changing the look and feel of the website.

  • The server software generates one or more XML indexes of the site that make it extremely easy for search engines and end-users to find content.

  • Blog servers can communicate with each other using web services mechanisms to spread new content even faster than enabled by the XML indexes.

As you can see, blog technology solves many of the nagging problems of both web publishers and web surfers. By making it easier for publishers to create and post content and for users and search engines to find content, blog technology is revolutionizing the World Wide Web. The early adopters were users who wanted to create on-line journals, but blog technology is being rapidly assimilated the mainstream media and business are adopting the technology for both Internet and intranet applications. Particularly interesting applications await in entertainment, finance, real estate, and law.

In summary, blogs are creating the infrastructure for the next generation World Wide Web.

For more information

If you're looking for a book about the social and economic effects of blogging, I highly recommend Dan Gillmor's book, We the Media.

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