Blog and blogosphere
They have built a fortune by writing a blog. They have got millions of readers and gained more power than governors. With just a kind of computerized diary. Blog are very simple things that turned into social phenomenons by the numbers of readers and the emergence of communities of blogs, the blogosphere. Read amazing stories about blogs, but at first all the technical aspects of this Web 2.0 application.
A blog is a special kind of website that is filled day after day as a diary. Actually this is an Internet diary that may be dedicated to personal experience, especially by travelers, or to share comments about some public subject: politic, economy, the enterprise or organization where one is working, etc... The large audience of some blogs has now incited enterprises and politicians to use a blog as a media to communicate directly.
First blogs were originally simple journals kept online. A game author,
John Carmak was one of the first to exhibit a such diary on a network in
the nineteens. Early weblogs was just HTML pages, completed day after day
with new files. The term weblog, is a concatenation of web and log, has
been shortened to blog, and is now both a noun and a verb.
One of first blog hosting was Xanga, that started in 1997 and is now hosting 20 millions of blogs in 2006.
The availability of content management system on dedicated hosting has mainly contributed to the success of the writing of blogs by anyone, and that may be dated to 1999. Blogger has been launched in 1999 and bought by Google in 2003.
In 2001 several blogs outgoing personnal diary appeared, maintained by journalists or politicians. Blogging becomes an alternative to journalism and a new media for information, or opinion.
In 2002 blogs were used actively to comment political decisions or enterprise problems and are used as a means by some actors for bringing key information to public light. Since the epoch, blogs are a vector to publicize information and opinion from person that previously were involved by information without any means to make it publicly available.
Now most of politicians, CEO of enterprises and stars have a blog.
In 2003 blogs are a second public source of information besides journals, television, radios...
In 2004, blogs were an important source of news facing big events, such as tsunamis, wars, etc..., thanks to the information given by those that are directly involved by these events.
In 2005, blogs are integrated into classical medias as radio and magazine that make reviews of blogs or include widely known bloggers into their staffs. The Fortune magazine provides a list of blogs that business people could not ignore.
In 2006 blogs are a business for bloggers themselves, they can make big revenues with their blog.
Why a blog?
They are now millions of blogs. One may wonder why so much persons need
to put so personal information on the web, to the eyes of milliards of net
surfers... Apart those that use blog for the purpose of a commercial or
promotional tool, of course. There are lot of reasons for that. The success
of some blogs and the money they have made may be a good incentive.
The need to own also a website when you are visiting so much sites is another reason and a blog is the simpler means to build a website.
The need to get comments about an idea of something you have accomplished may be a motivation.
Speaking about itself should be the best motivation since this is the goal of the blog! At the opposite this is also the simplest means to speak of others, and as this is shown further in this article, to criticize an organization or to attack a political rival...
Another reason is the need to enter a blogosphere that is a kind of virtual society, but more about that in the second part of this article...
Components of the blog
The blog is a journal, the content is a series of posts on a same page. The number of posts is limited, and a new post takes place at top of the page and excludes the older one when the maximal number allowed is reached.
A post has a date and a title, with optionally a summary. You can insert
images, tables, etc... depending of the features of the editor. The text
may be written online with a special wysiwyg editor, or a simple textual
editor that recognizes some formatting code. The classical bbCode may be
used, or a similar format.
Some tools allow to add a post from an e-mail, or by using a word processor, see at the blog managers at bottom.
Posts may be created offline also thanks to tools as Ecto, Elicit, Blogger.
- A category, or tag, is selected when a post is created and the post is displayed on the page of this category.
- They holds the list of previous post, that can't fit on the page. The titles are usually ordered by date.
- Visitors are often required to register to add comments to the blog. Some sophisticated CMS allow membership management and password protected areas.
- Reader are allowed to post comments that can be just opinion, or in technical blogs complementary information. Other readers can answer to comments and so, the original post start a thread of discussion as of a forum.
- This is a field for readers to add URL of a website, article, or post in other blog that link to the current post or refer to it. Some blog tools allow to discover and add the trackback automatically, otherwise they are added manually by readers to the post. In the first case they have to support the common LinkBack protocol. Often spams oblige the blogger to disable this feature.
- List of other blogs, displayed beside the content of the blog, in a sidebar. The other blogs may share a same interest or may be the blogs the author likes. A blogroll can be syndicated by RSS as well.
- Most blog managers provide a script to build an RSS feed, that allow to syndicate the content of the blog, in RSS 2.0 or Atom format. The links in the feed may be the last entries or a selection of titles.
- Some blog managers display a calendar to select a post from the archives, according to the date.
In 2012, the statistics service Pingdom provides the following figure about the choice of blogging platform for the first 100 sites (this is not market shares, but only the most important sites):
This is 48% for both Wordpress platforms!
Some examples of popular sites and their platform:
- ArsTechnica, Gizmodo: custom,
- TMZ: CrowdFusion,
- Huffington Post, ReadWriteWeb: Movable Type,
- Mashable, TechCrunch and Boing Boing: Wordpress,
- WordPress is both a blog hosting site and a CMS to install on its own host. This is the most popular in both cases. Note that in 2011, Microsoft moved the contents of his blog platform on Wordpress.com.
- This blog hosting has been purchased by Google and enhanced with other tools.
For example, the Google toolbar allows to post directly on your blog. You
can also, thanks to a plug-in, write a text for your blog with Word, and
that online or offline. This host also allows you to give or not permissions
Blogger enables blogs to be hosted on blogger.com and transferring post via FTP while the URL of the blog is a subdomain of blogspot.com (example: xul.blogspot.com).
- FaceBook, Google+ and MySpace
- Facebook is used to exchange information with people you know, to know what happens with your friends or inform people around you but is also a blogging platform. It is the same for Google+ and MySpace, which specializes in music and has a search engine and a system of e-mails.
- Open Diary
- The oldest online diary hosting and social networking community (1998). Hosts diaries in a lot of countries. Free and paid accounts available.
- This host extends blogs with social networking features, with four social
states allowed. The state of friend is the strongest: two among users designate
the other one as a friend.
There are also several level of privacy: each post may by private, or accessible to a group, or public. Permission to post comments can be restricted also to the friend list, to registered users, and so one.
Has a volunteer support model, but the trend is to acquire more and more paid employees.
LiveJournal is most popular in English-speaking countries and in Russia.
- Online diary hosting to children.
Building a website
You can also purchase a domain name, get a PHP and MySQL powered hosting
and build you own website. In this case you have to use a blog manager.
The best ones are these:
- Wordpress is aimed at professional workers, it supports multi-blogs, RSS etc... You can send an e-mail to add a post.
- Dotclear. Complete blog manager with archives, search, comments, trackbacks, RSS and various themes...
- Nucleus CMS has an extended list of features.
Other similar tools exist: Geeklog, BlogCMS, Blosxom, Lyceum, etc...
Another solution if you expect some contributing by readers, is to build a blog-wiki, or bliki. BitWeaver is a tool that allows to do that, but it is rather heavy and will require extended space on you hosting. See also TikiWiki.
The term appeared at first in 1999 and was used as a joke but become popular after it was used to discuss public opinion by radios and magazines. The power of blogs actually come from the blogosphere that turns it into a social phenomenon. Blogs are linked together not as web pages for the content but for the persons instead, and that creates a social network that not only propagates informations but also create a kind of computerized wave, that may have a real influence.
Services of social networking provided by blog hosts:
- Friend list.
List of other bloggers. Bloggers can restrict access to their blog to their friend list thanks to the privacy feature.
A group of weblogs with a same focus or theme, that is displayed on the blog.
Provided by a host, indication of the geographic location of a blogger and list of members in a same location. This improves again the social networking aspect.
Several levels of permission may be given to read to to post comments to a blog. To friend, to groups or public.
Blogs that are written by well-known persons, politicians, stars, etc...
of course have a lot more traffic than that of simple citizens, but sometime
authors of blogs can become popular by the content of the blog when they
are absolutely anonymous as a person.
If the content of you blog if very good with valuable and provide unique information, and an exciting style, you can be carried by the wave from blog to blog and become popular and influent very quickly. You have to create the "killer post" that will make you famous and it must necessarily contain a unpublished information.
Influence of blogs
Several sites use the links between the blog to know the inter connexions
in the social network. When pieces of discussion are propagated from blog
to blog, some sites are often at start of the wave and they are identified
by the analysis of this social network.
Blog search engines as Technorati, PubSub, and Truth Laid Bear, that based on links may provide such information.
A website as MySpace is supposed an influential part of contemporary popular culture in English speaking countries.
Apart the social network, a single blog may be influent also, providing the blogger has access, thanks to its function or accidentally, to crucial information and let it public by the means of its blog.
Stories about blogs
The Rathergate scandal
Many bloggers view this scandal as the advent of blogs' acceptance by the mass media, both as a source of news and opinion and as means of applying political pressure. When Dan Rather, a television journalist, presented documents on a CBS show that conflicted with accepted accounts of President Bush's military service record, bloggers presented pieces of evidence that these documents are forgeries, and that leads CBS to apologize after they have defended the document for two weeks. Dan Rather said: "If I knew then what I know now , I certainly would not have used the documents in question".
The first object of the debate about defamatory posts from John Doe against Cahill, was the identity of John Doe. At first the complaint was to know who he is while the blogger protest of its right to remain anonymous. A first judgment has been reversed. But then the Cahills were able to find the ISP address of John Doe, who turned out to be the person they suspected: the town's mayor, Cahill's political rival. The Cahills amended their original complaint, and the mayor settled the case rather than going to trial. (John Doe No. 1 v. P. and J. Cahill)
Several Royal Dutch Shell Group companies in Malaysia collectively obtained in 2004 an Injunction against a Shell whistleblower, a Malaysian geologist and former Shell employee, Dr John Huong, in respect of alleged defamatory postings attributed to him on a weblog hosted in North America but owned and operated by an British national, Alfred Donovan, a long term critic of Shell.
The case was watched by many bloggers because it addressed the legal question of liability for comments posted on blogs.
Traffic Power sued a blogger for defamation and publication of trade secrets in 2005 because he as reported that Traffic Power had been "banned from Google for allegedly rigging search engine results." (Slashdot, Aug 31).
- See the List of CMS. Several tools ready to install on your hosting, including Wordpress.
- See How to make money with a blog.
- List of advertisers.
- Twitter. Online diary in short messages.
- Flickr. Photo sharing.
- Technorati. Search engine for blogs, display a Top 100 list of most linked blogs from RSS feeds, blogrolls and other links. Uses and contributes to open source software.
- Google Blogsearch. Search engine for blogs.