Weblogs, or simply blogs, are web sites which are regularly kept up to date by site owners or contributors. They are non-commercial and the content is on a specific subject or range of subjects, more often than not of topical interest. As the name implies, they take on the form of a diary or log.
The word weblog is attributed to Jorn Barger, an American writer born in 1953 in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He became well known on Internet as the editor of Robot Wisdom, one of the early weblogs.
The format of weblogs is very varied with no hard and fast rules. They may be based on miscellaneous themes with discussions and their ensuing sequence of responses - so-called threads. Some post stories of interest to awaken reactions and stimulate comments. Some are more specifically aimed at particular interest groups whilst others are a daily summary or collection of news items or web highlights.
Weblogs all have one thing in common – they change. And it is this continual change which motivates visitors to return to the site on a regular basis. The fact that a contribution can be made creates a feeling of participation, making the web site that much more personal.
Usenet (Unix User Network) which began in the late 1970s was one of the forerunners of weblogs and contributed enormously to the Internet’s rapid expansion. Its spirit of information-sharing and discussion was the hallmark of its system and is reflected in the Internet as a whole.
Another odd term within the weblog scene is blogroll. This is a collection of links found on a weblog site linking to other sites. The link may be included because other weblogs are based on similar topics or aimed at a similar readership etc.
Some examples of weblogs
Personal weblogs are often no more than diaries containing the authors experiences and thoughts with regard to daily life and events, but they sometimes include contributions from other people. For the most part these may be used by a circle of friends as a means of frequent communication but can also be read by the entire Internet community.
Friendblogs are similar to personal weblogs but form a network of weblogs of friends and acquaintances who share like interests.
Corporate weblogs are a sort of continuously changing official or semi-official newsletter with contributions by corporate employees.
Directory weblogs are constantly updated lists of web sites with content of interest to web surfers.
Group or collective weblogs are written by numerous contributors and based on a specific subject. Access may be completely open or limited to a specific group.
Topical weblogs, as the term implies, are based on a particular subject at a particular time. However the time often extends over a long period, depending on the subject matter. These weblogs often contain technical content.
Thoughtful weblogs tend to be more philosophical, covering a vast variety of topics. Although these thoughts crop up in various weblog types, the philosophical aspect remains distinctive.
Political weblogs are as varied as politics itself and the views aired range over the whole political spectrum, from extremely conservative to extremely liberal. Some of the more popular ones clock up over 1 million visits per month. In 2003, political weblogs were used by Howard Dean and Wesley Clark when contending for Democratic Nomination for the U.S. Presidential Elections.
There are various tools and software packages for creating and maintaining weblog sites including tracking and feedback features. Weblog hosting sites and services are also available.