What is a blog?
The word ‘blog’ is short for ‘web log’.
At its simplest, a web log is a frequently updated personal website with all updates displayed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent update is always visible at the top.
Many blogs take the form of an online diary or journal, and even when the content is not date-specific, most new blog pages are automatically stamped with the date and time of their creation, which reinforces the perception of blogs as journals.
Other characteristics typical of many blogs are copious links to other sites or blogs, and an area for readers to add comments, creating a sense of community and interaction among ‘bloggers’. This last bit is crucial really, as the greatest distinction between a blog and a conventional site is that a blog is intended as a conversation between its author and its readers, whereas a conventional site is more like a monologue.
Why has the popularity of blogs exploded so rapidly?
For the blogger:
1. They’re incredibly simple to update. You don’t need any special software or technical skills - you can create and update your own blog just by registering with one of the many blogging services, picking from a range of ready-made page designs, and typing your text into your web browser. You can be ready to go in less than 10 minutes.
2. A blog really does give everyone a voice. Whether you want to use a blog as an online diary, a platform for your opinions, a showcase for your photos or your music, or just as a place to list your favourite links, it gives you your own corner of the web.
For the reader:
1. Whatever you read on a blog, you’re more likely to be getting the unfiltered version, straight from the horse’s mouth. Blogging is so immediate that blogs have become an alternative to the traditional media. On 7 July 2005 in the hours immediately following the terrorist attacks on London transport, eyewitness accounts (and photos taken with camera phones) started to appear on blogs while conventional news sources were still unclear as to what had actually happened.
Similarly in 2003, blogs provided a significantly different view of the Iraq War, with both serving soldiers and Iraqi citizens posting their own perspective on unfolding events.
2. Conventional media is still essentially about one-way traffic: they print or broadcast stuff, and you (the reader, listener or viewer) consume it. But a blog turns this process into a conversation - you can immediately interact with the writer by posting comments about what they have written.
RADIO 2 BLOGS
Mike Harding / Folk and Acoustic
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About the BBC Blog Network
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BBC Webwise: How to get your own blog