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Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Bookmark Now! | Email to a friend  

Where do blogs come from?

If you read this one, you should already have an idea of what is a blog, but where do they come from? I knew that "blog" was short for "weblog," so I searched on "history of weblogs" to answer that question.

A weblog is usually defined as a personal or noncommercial web site that uses a dated log format (usually with the most recent addition at the top of the page) and contains links to other web sites along with commentary about those sites. A weblog is updated frequently and sometimes groups links by specific subjects, such as politics, news, pop culture, or computer issues.

Some people are of the opinion that Mosaic's What's New page in 1993 was the first weblog. It was essentially a list of links that a few people thought were worth passing along to others. However, it wasn't until December 1997 that Jorn Barger coined the term "weblog" in his Robot Wisdom Weblog.

In 1998, only a handful of blogs existed, and many of the bloggers knew each other and linked to each other's sites. Rebecca Blood, author of The Weblog Handbook, notes that one preeminent site listed only 23 blogs in existence at the beginning of 1999. The media started noticing blogs later in 1999 and drew attention to the phenomenon. But it was the proliferation of free weblog-creation programs in 1999 that made blogging into a hugely popular pastime. Before this software was widely available, most weblogs were hand-coded by web developers and others who taught themselves HTML. The new programs made it easy for anyone to create their own weblog.

Blogger was released in August 1999 and was an immediate hit. This simple weblog application allows users to create any kind of weblog they desire. By October 2000, Blogger users were creating 300 new blogs a day, and the Blogger directory had over 5,500 blogs listed. In November of the same year, the 10,000th Blogger weblog was created. As of 2002, Blogger claimed over 750,000 users.

The rise of tools like Blogger also changed the content of weblogs. While they had begun as link-driven sites offering alternative viewpoints on news and other subjects, weblogs began to collide with online journals. Blogger-style tools allowed links and commentary to quickly grow into longer essays and diaries on the Web. Online journals had existed before this, but weblog applications made journals easier to manage for those who didn't know HTML.

Weblogs and online journals are often confused, and they can frequently overlap in content and style. But purists point out that a person writing in an online journal or diary is logging their life, not the Web. Weblogs still exist to log what's going on around the World Wide Web.

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