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Blog

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A blog is a journalistic website in which a "blogger" (web author, or site administrator) posts entries. Often, entries are displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Etymology

"Blog" is a shortening of "web log". Blog can also be used as a verb to refer to adding an entry about a topic to a blog, as in "I blogged about that". The originator of the word is disputed, but it originated in the late 1990s.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the earliest known appearance of "blog" in print or electronic format was in late May 1999. It attributes the abbreviated word to Peter Merholz. According to the OED, the full word, "weblog," originated in 1993 to describe "a file storing a detailed record of requests handled ... by a web server." Later, in December 1997, Jorn Barger first used the word as the filename of a web page containing a list of (and links to) other interesting web sites. The OED's first example of the use of the term as a word, rather than as a file name, in this sense is from the September 8, 1998, Village Voice newspaper (spelled "WebLog").

Typology of blogs

Blogs can be used for purposes such as:

  • Personal diary

Day-to-day stories of personal lives, these blogs raise the issue of privacy and sharing of thoughts.

  • Thematic blog

People decide to blog only on specific issues: politics, environment, technology, TV shows...

  • Collective blog

Although a blog is above all a means of personal expression, some are open to contribution by a collectivity. They offer a more diverse view on a topic, are more often updated and can rely on precise editorial rules.

  • Brand blog

Brands have seen in blogs an advertising opportunity. In this case, they publish posts on the latest brand's news, allowing Web surfers (and potential customers) to comment on them. These blogs are an efficient way to get a feeling of what the market wants and can establish a new, fresher kind of dialog between manufacturers and customers.

  • Corporate internal blog

Companies use blogs for project management purposes. A department manager or team members can share ideas and information on the project's progress. These blogs are private by nature, accessible only on the company's intranet.

  • Travelog

Travelling people can write articles and publish photos to share their discoveries and keep in touch with their loved ones.

  • Private vs public blog

Blogs are not necessarily public. Many of them are private, password-protected. Among them, family blogs allow people to stay tuned with what happens in the family circle.

Technical preconditions

Many bloggers use a hosted blogging service, like Blogger or TypePad or LiveJournal, which allow the blogger to get started without installing any software on their computer. Some of these are ad-supported, and some offer paid ad-free models.

There are also dozens of blogging programs a user can install on his own computer, using a personal machine as his blog's server. These allow the blogger to decide whether or not to allow advertising for income but require the blogger to shoulder his hardware and bandwidth costs.

Business model

Although most blogging is done for fun or for informational purposes, some blogging is done for monetary reasons.

Some businesses run blogs, where their CEOs or other ranking officials can write to the public, their customers, and to shareholders. Some of these blogs are actually written by the executive, but many are ghostwritten by staffers or assistants. This model is also followed by political candidates.

Some bloggers accept money to do promotion for a company or its products without disclosing the arrangement. For instance, a blogger working for a company or a PR firm might write a favorable review of a product, refute accusations against the company, or smear rivals in exchange for money. Such actions are called astroturfing, and are generally discouraged in the online community, as they represent an attempt to create "fake grassroots", and astroturfers are denounced if and when discovered.

Finally, some bloggers with a large enough audience can make money off of pay-per-click advertising and selling merchandise.

Accomplishments of bloggers

Integrating Web 2.0 services

Bloggers may make use of collaborative web tools in their blogs. For instance, many bloggers store videos related to their posts on Youtube or Google Video and photos on Photobucket or Flickr. They link to other blogs, and find many of their stories on other collaborative websites like Digg, which in turn finds and highlights interesting blog stories.

Further reading