Blogging, the frequent, chronological publication on the Web of personal thoughts and opinions for other Internet users to read. The name, coined in the late 1990s, derives from “Web logging.” The product of blogging is known as a “blog.” There are millions of blogs on the Internet. In addition to thoughts and opinions, many bloggers also use their blogs to recommend books, music, and links to other sites on the World Wide Web.
Blogging predates the late 1990s. People kept blogs long before the term was coined, but the trend has gained momentum with the introduction of automated publishing services. Tens of thousands of people use these services to publish their blogs. Among the notable publishing services are Radio and Blogger, which was bought by the Internet search company Google in February 2003. The Microsoft Network (MSN) offers a blogging service known as MSN Spaces. (Encarta Encyclopedia is owned by Microsoft and is available through MSN.)
The form of a blog is very much dependent on the individual who keeps it. Most blogs are a mix of what is happening in a person’s life and what they feel about things they see on the Web. In this respect, they are a kind of hybrid diary and guide, although there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people who keep them. The popularity of blogging has given rise to a number of tools that can remind you about blogs you read or that generate more views of your blog.
For instance, Blogarithm is a service that lets users subscribe to blogs and be notified by email when they have new content. Despite being open to public scrutiny, blogs are not really intended for mass consumption. The role of the blog is probably best expressed by Stefan Glanzer, one of the founders of blogging system 20six: ‘If you want to reach millions you book an ad on TV and if you want to reach one person you use e-mail or the telephone. But if you want to reach between 5 and 500 people a blog is an ideal tool to communicate.’ However, some specialized search engines look principally at blogs, and as a result, blogs are available to anyone on the Internet with access to a good search engine.
In the United States, blogs have become a kind of alternative to mainstream media. Many critics of the mainstream media use blogs to present information reported by international news outlets and seldom presented in the U.S. media or to critique what they see as the shortcomings or biases of the major media outlets. Many journalists also maintain blogs as a form of reporting or commentary. Academic experts have also adopted blogs to comment on developments in their fields or to offer their analysis of the domestic and international news. Middle East expert Juan Cole, for example, a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, became well known for comments on political developments in Iraq in his blog.
Although primarily for personal expression, there is a trend to use blogs in business as an informal discussion medium. Some companies have used blogs to provide a forum for discussion of new ideas and products. Famous bloggers include the musician Moby and Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.