Blogging is easily becoming one of the most popular trends of the internet. Its implications and uses are numerous. People are blogging now more than ever before with estimation of users reaching approximately 100 million. Blogs are easily becoming the wave of communication for the future. Personal journals, diaries, news, fashion, discussions, updates, and sports are all common examples of blogs. Bloggers use these various different styles of blogs for many different purposes, none better than the other. Blogging has become for many, personal, or where information is found, and for others a form of voyeurism, where you look into and are intrigued by the lives of others. Blogging serves many purposes and is different for all who use it.
Originating in the late 1990’s blogging is quickly becoming one of the most useful and influential tools of the Web. The origin of the technology is the source of some controversy since its origin is not completely clear. According to CNet news, one of the first bloggers was Winer “…a pioneer of Web syndication techniques and editor of Scripting News, which launched on April 1, 1997”. He claims that “…Scripting News "bootstrapped the blogging revolution" and that it is the "longest currently running Web log on the Internet". He also makes claims that "the first blogs were inspired" by Scripting News”.
Blogging has evolved from its early days, used primarily by technologically savvy computer users. Today’s bloggers are people of many different backgrounds. There is no one particular type of blogger. People of all ages can participate; all that is required is a computer and connection to the internet. Sites such as Blogger.com, have made the process simpler than ever imagined. Blogger.com is Google’s own blogging site that sets users up with their own blog with three easy steps that literally takes minutes. Detailed step by step directions allow even people with little to no experience with a computer to create their very own blog. The personal blog has many purposes. Some use it as a diary, or online journal. It is kept by one user who posts to it as frequently as desired. The controls can be set to varying level s of privacy to allow as many or as few people to read it. Some people share very intimate, private details on their blog, while others use their blog to express simple thoughts or ideas they may have. The personal blog varies from user to user, however one thing remains prevalent, the blogger is in control. They choose the topic, they choose when and what they wish to blog. Followers of blogs can post comments to blogs, usually a reaction to a posting by the bloggers. This allows for communication to reach a level of never before. Another common use of blogs is to keep friends and family up to date on occurrences in one’s life. Posting to a blog is far easier than calling each individual, or emailing each person that one may want to share news with. People interested in keeping in touch with one another can frequently do so with the convenience that blogging offers.
Blogging is also commonly used for entertainment purposes. There is a blog out there somewhere for each and every topic imaginable, catering to the needs of users everywhere. Some people turn to blogs to catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. For example, Crush is a blog that keeps its followers up to date on the latest details of the lives of young celebrities in Hollywood. It is followed primarily by young users, teenagers to be exact; however there are others of varying age groups. People check in daily and often make comments to the blogs, as if they were responding to the celebrities themselves. This is an example of blogging for entertainment purposes.
Some blogs are for informative purposes. People seeking information on almost any topic can search for a blog that allows them to post a question and be answered by another user. Often times, one can find a blog where someone else had the same question and you can be informed simply by reading the replies they received.
Blogs have also had political implications. Blogs can help or hurt political campaigns. It was said in the New York Times that “In March, political experts said, Malaysia’s bloggers helped influence elections, contributing to the biggest upset that the governing party, the United Malays National Organization, had suffered since independence in 1957. For the first time in decades, it held fewer than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, and it lost control of 5 of the 13 states” (Mydans, 2008). There is free reign over what is written on blogs and what is read on a blog can influence choices made by its readers. There is also controversy associated with blogging in relation to freedom of speech. The question remains, how far is too far, how much is too much? In America people have the freedom of speech as one of their rights, however with blogging being an international sensation, some bloggers are coming across boundaries. In places around the world where the government in charge puts censors on what is said and alters what is heard by its citizens, the internet is where people who want to be heard can turn. The New York Times reports that in Malaysia “…bloggers are becoming a Fifth Estate, challenging the government’s monopoly on information in Singapore, evading censors in Vietnam, and influencing events in places like Thailand, Cambodia and China” (Mydans, 2008). The internet and blogging has created a new outlet for the government to try and control in the regions were freedom of speech does not prevail, however due to the amazing capabilities of both, the governments that want to take control are having increased difficulty in doing so.
Blogging is also a source of controversy in the field of journalism. Many question whether those who blog are worthy of being considered journalists. Some argue yes for several reasons. If you turn to any popular newspapers website today, there is a blog section. Often these are the same people writing the articles for the paper itself. Sometimes bloggers are people that are former journalists. If followers of blogs turn to blogs for information, some would argue that there is no difference between a blogger and a journalist as they are one in the same. However, on the other end of the spectrum, some people view blogs as personal and entertainment, not at all credible sources of information. For this reason, bloggers are considered simply bloggers, and journalists are those who write for established sources. Blogs vary in their tones and the level of writing they have, so this can also be of consideration when arguing the blogger versus the journalist. Blogs that are written very casually, in using computer terms such as LOL, to express laughing out loud might be considered written by a blogger.
Blogs are evolving on a level that has potential to change our society. Bloggers can focus on topics that may not be as prevalent in the main stream news. Blogs are rapidly growing and its audiences are as well. Followers of blogs are often inspired to start their own, leading to more and more users of the technology. Blogs are free and can be accessed at any time by anyone. They are current and constantly updated. They are personalized and often represent their author. Blogs are so popular and effective because they give those who may not have an outlet for their opinions a voice. It’s the first technology of its kind to give people those capabilities. If you put a thought out there, someone will read it, and possibly talk back. Bloggers have the chance to communicate with people across the world as well as someone right down the block. There are no constraints on blogs which is possibly a cause of their popularity. Bloggers are not afraid to say the right thing, and don’t have to. They are not being monitored and have no one to impress, except their audience, if they wish. Many writers prefer blogging because of the freedom from advertising executives that you might face when trying to sell a magazine for instance. Andrew Sullivan, a contributor to TIME says “It’s incredibly liberating” of blogging. People today blog for so many reasons; to stay in touch, to educate and learn, to express opinions, to be heard. Blogging can be summed up in one word: communication. It is rapidly becoming the most effective and convenient way to hear others and be heard as well. Blogging is becoming the way of the future. There is the possibility of the extinction of the personal diary, the telephone, the mailing system is blogging continues on its path to take over the world of communication.