The proliferation of online personal journals known as weblogs or more commonly, blogs, has revolutionized the way people interact online and changed the manner in which they consume information. Not only do people share the mundane facts of their day-to-day lives (at times even their sex lives), but they also vent their political opinions, raise money for charity, review books and movies, draft short stories and novels, relate their travels, and give the conventional news media a run for its money. The number of unique uses for blogs is a great as the number of blogs themselves.
In 2004 a number of political bloggers were given press credentials at the presidential nominating conventions of both major political parties. Since that time more and more politicians have begun hosting their own blogs as a way to interact with constituents fastnewsisland.com. In addition, many reporters who covered the opening days of the war in Iraq posted accounts of their exploits on personal journals as well as filing stories with their news agencies. Today popular news programs like PrimeTime Live have blogs that augment their programming material.
Normally blogs are updated on a regular basis with entries appearing in chronological order, usually reverse. A number of free blog services make it quite easy for the novice blogger to establish a presence on the web. Blogs from Blogger, LiveJournal, and EasyJournal fit into this category. Many people, however, seek to customize their blogs with designs and content that fit their personalities and interests.
Often in this scenario the blogger registers a domain name, pays for the services of a web hosting company, and either installs and customizes the blog software or hires a blog designer to do so. Software popular for this more sophisticated application includes TypePad, Expression Engine, MoveableType, and WordPress. (Note that WordPress is a free blog application but many designers for hire create custom templates for this popular content engine.)
Blogs not only contain text entries, but link to other blogs and sites across the web. Blogs may include photographs, video, and increasingly audio files, often in a talk show format known as “podcasts,” a reference to the wildly popular portable media player from Apple, the iPod. Podcasts have taken the basic idea and format of blogs and moved them into the spoken word. Many podcasters post transcripts or “show notes” of their program in conventional blog format as well as making their downloadable “broadcasts” available.
With the availability of content management software that makes keeping a website as easy as filling out a form and clicking a button, people who would never have seen themselves having a web presence have joined the online community in droves. Bloggers come from all sections of society and all age groups from teenagers to octegenarians. Whether personal in nature or politically themed, blogs have changed the online world in a decisive fashion and continue to proliferate at a steady rate.