Idoubt JORN Barger realised what he was on to when he coined the term “weblog” 10 year ago to describe his site which he linked to others he found interesting. A decade on, weblogs have become blogs and as essential a part of our lives as the Internet itself. Most of us have one, if not two, which we happily share with our friends and families.
Barger writes in the Wired magazine that his intent for weblogs in 1997 was to make the web as a whole more transparent, via a sort of “mesh network,” where each weblog amplifies just those signals (or links) its author likes best. That was ten years ago.
Today, there are personal blogs, there are media blogs, and there are those which impact politics and those that affect companies and financial markets. Blog gurus earn a lot of money but then there are many who just keep writing for pleasure, using blogs as an avenue to express their personal thoughts in the hope that somebody, somewhere would connect. A lot of times they do.
A year after Barger launched his weblog, there were just over 20 such sites in the blogosphere. Today, blog monitoring site Technocrati tracks more than 70 million of them. According to them, about 120,000 new blogs are created every day, which translates to about 1.4 blogs every second. Heavy loading, phew!
The trends are interesting. For example, there is a slowing in the doubling of the blogosphere’s size, and the rate of blogs created every day increases sharply during times of significant world crisis, according to Technocrati. By language, Japanese is at the top slot, followed closely by English. Indian languages, unfortunately, don’t figure in the top 10, though Chinese does find a slot.
If most blogs are inane, there are those which are hugely influential. The Drudge Report became so hot with its coverage of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s affair that Matt Drudge was named one of the most influential people in the world by the Time magazine in 2006.
Similarly, it was a blogger who left the much-revered CBS new anchor Dan Rather red faced with his jottings about a story during the 2004 US presidential elections. According to Arianna Huffington, head of the online news website The Huffington Post, bloggers are pit bulls of journalism. That may be true in the United States, but here in India bloggers have some distance to travel before they get the kind of recognition those in the US have.
Barger, the man who introduced blogs to the world, says he has gained some wisdom of his own about blogging. Writing in the Wired magazine, he offers some tips to novice bloggers: A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share; you can certainly include links to your original thoughts, posted elsewhere … but if you have more original posts than links, you probably need to learn some humility; if you spend a little time searching before you post, you can probably find your idea well articulated elsewhere already; being truly yourself is always hipper than suppressing a link just because it’s not trendy enough.
He also suggests that your readers need to get to know you; you can always improve on the author’s own page title, when describing a link; always include some adjective describing your own reaction to the linked page; credit the source that led you to it, so your readers have the option of moving upstream; pick some favorite authors or celebrities and create a Google news feed that tracks new mentions of them, so other fans can follow them via your weblog among others.
If you haven’t started blogging, you have the tips from the big Guru himself. Go ahead and start posting.