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Friday, January 12th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet


What is a Weblog?

  • An online journal or diary that is frequently updated.
  • A public Web site where users post informal journals of their thoughts, comments and philosophies that is updated frequently, which normally reflects the views of the blog’s creator.
  • Using RSS, content ranges from, news and personal diaries to political campaigns, media programs and corporations, which are posted on a common Web page in periodic reverse, chronological order.

There are many definitions of a Weblog and they are coined by many different people. In its simplest of forms, “a Weblog is a dated entry on a Web site.” Weblogs originated in 1993 to 1994 with the beginning of the Internet itself. Back then, they were lists of links to other sites, along with commentaries. The Weblog editor, known as a blogger, surfs the Web for topics of interest to him or her. They then post a Weblog about one of the links they found particularly interesting. Alongside these links would be commentary about the link itself. This type of Weblog is used as a filtering tool. In a way, the Web has been pre-surfed by the Weblog editor and the site linked will more than likely be of good quality and probably, well worth visiting.

Who Invented the Weblog?

When it became popular to have dated entries on a Web site, the term Weblog was coined and given to this type of Web site (those with links and commentary). Surprisingly enough, the first site of this type was the first Web site ever, which was Tim Berners-Lee’s site. His site linked to all the new sites that came online and he had just created a filter style Weblog. Tim Berners-Lee may have inadvertently created the first of what is now known as a Weblog, but there are however, many people and communities that deserve credit for the success of Weblogs today as well.

Types of Weblogs

1. Filter Style Weblog is a community of individuals interested in all aspects of technology, from AMD (processor manufacturer) to Ximian (leader in open source desktop technology). Here, bloggers post links and commentary at “very” regular intervals. That is only because they have already found sites that will interest the members of the Slashdot community and they have also commented on them. Members of Slashdot will know from the commentary whether the link will be worth following or not.

This type of Weblog is used as a filtering tool. The members of electronic communities, like Slashdot, come together in the first place, because of some shared interest. In this case, a complex, and sometimes highly technical range of acquired knowledge. An individualistic community with a common purpose, sites like this attract focused, like-minded participants and programmers and developers.

2. Personal Weblog

This type of Weblog moves its focus from links, comments and personal notes to the bloggers themselves. It is a type of journal. The journal records the blogger’s thoughts, opinions and everyday observations. They can include the most mundane of subjects, like what the blogger ate for dinner the night before or what movie they were going to take their girlfriend to see the following weekend. This is the most common type of blog out there today.

3. Business Weblog

Business blogging has existed since Netscape published their “What’s New”? blog in 1993, but it took over 10 years before the corporate community awoke to the commercial possibilities of engaging viewers in their business practices and structures. For small businesses, a blog can attract both commercial and private interest and serve to disseminate product information or technical expertise to search engines and Web directories. At the other end of the scale, corporate giants, like Microsoft, originate a number of blogs, such as one dedicated to Internet Explorer (IEBlog), another authored by their RSS (Really Simple Syndication) team and the developer group blog. Google, unsurprisingly, since it owns Blogger, has its own blog called the “Official Google Blog,” but as with Microsoft’s blog suite, it is tightly content controlled.

4. Community Weblogs

As the name suggests, community blogs are typified by the communities they support and may be penned by one, but usually many authors, whose submissions help expand the topic base. They are not dissimilar to online forums or discussion groups and are generally product or topic specific. Communities may comprise like-minded individuals with common interests or professions, such as Webmasters, football fans, model makers, etc. They may also take the form of physical communities, like towns. Conversely, the community may be a diverse collection of blogs formed through association with a common utility, such as the Opera browser, which recently offered its own free blogging service called “MyOpera Community.”

5. Knowledge Weblog

This type of Weblog can be used in an e-learning (enhanced learning) capacity. If an expert on a topic posted regularly on that topic, then readers of that Weblog would gain knowledge about that particular topic. This can be a very effective means of keeping a team of engineers (for example) up to date on current advances in a certain field of engineering. The team leader would post his knowledge on the Weblog and from there, all his team would read and absorb it. This type of Weblog can be even more useful if the blogger includes multimedia content, like images.

6. Project Based Weblog

This is a very effective way of keeping track of project progress. With such a Weblog in use, it is very easy for a project manager to see what his team is up to at any given moment. Microsoft’s new SharePoint Team Services (STS) is a workgroup-based or project-based intranet server that uses the idea of project-based Weblogs as a feature of the product. The strength of project-based Weblogs is a sense of importance of a fellow team member’s information.

Using Weblogs to Their Full Potential

Weblogs can be used as a means of communication with one blogger commenting and referencing another Weblog they have read. This could spawn a discussion across several different Weblogs on a topic. Weblogs can be used as filters with smart bloggers placing links and comments about the linked site. This way, the reader can assimilate much more information than they would be able to on their own. Using Weblogs as knowledge logs is of a huge benefit in an e-learning capacity (as described above). Finally, the project-based Weblog can help all types of projects, whether it be a software project or a journalism project.

How Weblogs Work

There is a breed of an XML (Extensible Markup Language) called RSS, which is an XML with a defined vocabulary, specifically designed for Weblogs. RSS has all the features of an XML. RSS is an acronym for “RDF Site Summary,” “Really Simple Syndication” and “Rich Site Summary,” but they all mean the same thing. RSS is the basis for this content distribution service. It allows sharing of content between sites.

Some Examples of RSS Based Weblogs

There are three classes of generally available Weblog feed readers:

1. PC-based aggregators, such as NewsGator or NetNewsWire.
2. Web-based aggregators, such as Bloglines or
3. Browser-based aggregators, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Why Do We Create/Read Weblogs?

Having a Weblog means that you have presence on the Internet. It means you are not just an idle surfer. It is so easy to set up a simple Weblog these days, that more and more people are doing it, for the simple reason that they want to make their presence known. From the beginning, the Web has been about individuals creating their own media, from pictures of their cats to in-depth essays. People say things on their Weblog or Web page that they might not say in public.

Why? Well, because they can. By reading these Weblogs, you can get a glimpse into the mind of the blogger. It tells us what they are interested in, what they find absurd, what they think is funny and so on. If a user was to stick to using forums and chat boards, they would soon get tired of the hostility and abuse that appears on those types of things. Weblogs are written by individuals in a civil manner and therefore, won’t engage in any petty name calling or personal remarks that usually go on in forums. People might think that forums have an added advantage in that they aid in the creation of a community, but Weblogs can also be communities.

Blogging Challenges

The negative side of blogging arises in the form of spam blogs (“splogs”), whether as a contrivance designed purely for the purposes of promoting products or services, which have no substantial content or blogs developed to manipulate search engine rankings with links to affiliate Web sites. There are also individuals whose commentary on open blogs (those allowing feedback) promote irrelevant products or, more commonly, pornographic Web sites. In recent years, that has become more problematic, as roving spambots penetrate Weblogs and leave automated responses and links.

Solutions to the Challenges

Fortunately, leading blogware developers have released countermeasures, such as CAPTCHAS (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) and graphical representations of letters and numbers in which real users must type in before a blog post is accepted. Google also introduced a new HTML link, “nofollow,” in an effort to neutralize the value of links.

Some Popular Weblogs

1. Alpha Doggs
2. Paul McNamara’s Buzz Blog
3. Adam Gaffin’s Blog
4. Gibbs Blog
5. Compendium
6. Cool Tools
7. DEMOLetter
8. IT Border lands
9. Layer 8
10. Small Business Tech

There are a wide range of issues discussed in these Weblogs that range from politics to military to personal family lives, all ranging across the entire globe. Hopefully you now understand a bit more about Weblogs and who knows, you might even become part of one sooner than later as well!

~ Natarajan Kumaraswami

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