The Blog Phenomenon - HTML

Weblogging, or blogging for short, is the latest craze on the Web. Gaining popularity in the mid-90s, almost everyone has a blog nowadays.

Blogs come in many varieties:

  • The equivalent of an online diary, where the owner posts their thoughts about life, the universe, and everything
  • Themed articles where the owner posts their thoughts on specific topics, such as technology, politics, religion, and so on
  • News-related blogs where the owner posts aggregated news content

However, just like the desktop publishing explosion in the late ’80s taught us, just because someone can access technology doesn’t mean they should. As desktop publishing came of age, everyone with a computer began fancying themselves as a designer—it became quite clear that graphic design is an art that can only be aided, not replaced, by technology. Now, as blogging is reaching epic proportions, many people fancy themselves as Dave Barry-caliber writers seemingly with the assumption that the entire world cares what they think. It only takes a few moments of surfing the vast variety of blogs to ascertain just how wrong those assumptions can be.

That said, the blog world is full of useful information. From offering a look at the daily routine of people in interesting positions to the latest electronic gadget news, several blogs are bound to interest even the most jaded reader.

Note The support that large corporations (such as Microsoft) are lending to blogging is a sign that blogging has come into its own and is seen as a valuable resource. Such corporations encourage their employees to blog with the intent that such activities will increase communication between employees and the tech world at large. However, in the wake of such support also come a handful of blogrelated firings, companies letting employees go for inappropriate blog entries.

The real power of blogging comes in the community that has grown up around the technology. Online blogs have created a tightly knit subculture on the Web where authors read and respond to each other’s articles, leave comments to articles of interest, and so forth.

Note The ability to leave comments on an author’s blog is a double-edged sword. Although the feature allows the community to be more involved, the feature has also been used inappropriately by the spamming community. Anonymous comments containing links to other sites routinely get indexed by search engines. As such, comments on popular blogs can cause the site referenced in the comment to increase in rank in the search engine. Several tools are available to help stop blog spamming, but just like e-mail spam, nothing will completely remove it.

Another complementary technology, “Really Simple Syndication” (RSS) feeds, has helped the aggregation of blog content. RSS is an XML specification for syndicating content. It enables authors to publish their headlines or teasers for articles in a distinct format—a format that can then be read by other applications to effectively syndicate the articles.

Note Look for more information on RSS in the section, Syndicating content with RSS, later in this chapter.

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