Blogging – a big part of online culture
Blogging is one of the most popular Internet activities, a part of the online culture. Once an esoteric activity restricted to only a few users who knew HTML and File Transfer Protocol (FTP), publishing content has never been easier with the help of the user-friendly web publishing tools. Because of this, blogging has become more widespread and earned more devotees from ordinary Internet users who love to talk about anything and everything under the sun. In fact, many people have turned their love of writing into a steady form of income by reviewing products or creating products of their own.
So what exactly is a blog and how did it originate? How has it become so popular?
We trace the blog’s interesting origins way back to its infancy during the 1990s. Before the trend of personal blogging, there had already been various forms of digital communities, in the style of the forum. Earliest examples of these digital public forums were Usenet, Bulletin Board Systems as well as electronic mailing (e-mail or email list). The word “thread” – referring to the main topic – was already in use, at least among the knowledgeable select few. It’s clear that there was also already a social networking where the term was unheard-of then.
But what was to be considered to be the first personal blog was Links.net, created by Swarthmore College student Justin Hall, one of the earliest bloggers. His online diary was the basis of the modern blog we are familiar with today. Since 1994, Hall’s blog has been up and running up to this day.
The origins of the word “blog”
So what about the word itself, blog – how did it get coined and who created it?
The term weblog was coined by an online diarist, John Barger, in 1997. A contraction of the phrase “logging the Web,” it would be two years later when programmer Peter Merholz further shortened weblog to blog. The word was later adopted into the online community as some of the earliest netizens used the word “blog” as both a noun and a verb.
Also in 1999, the year when Merhloz introduced the word “blog,” Blogger began to roll out the first popular blogging service. Its free and comparatively easy-to-use platform became a hit among netizens, and up to the present Blogger still tops the poll as the most popular blogging website.
The blog’s continuous statistical growth meant that at the beginning of the 21st century, its number of users amounted to 50 million. Many of the more popular blogs today had their beginnings during that era – like Boing Boing, Dooce, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, Gawker (the first gossip-based blog), and others. Most blogs at that time were dealing with things of a political nature, and even one mysterious Iraqi blogger who went by the screen name of “Salam Pax” gained a large worldwide reader share during the height of the Iraq war.
WordPress also got its start during the early 2000’s, having risen to become of the most popular blog platforms of all time, counting the number of its blogs as over 56 million as of late 2012.
Because of the blogs’ rise in popularity, an advertising platform called AdSense was introduced in 2003, being the first online advertising network to match ads with blog content. Because of the advent of AdSense, it made it possible for bloggers to make cash on the side. Or sometimes because of AdSense, blogging has even become a business for many users, seeing it as a great and relatively easy opportunity to make money, often from home.
By the mid-2000’s, the blogs’ popularity extended to the mainstream media, as broadcasting organizations as well as politicians and political consultants starting to use blogs more conspicuously to reach out more to the growing blogging community.
Another medium called microblogging is a form of a blog that is smaller in structure, where people send short and concise posts in a limited number of characters. Twitter, which was founded in 2006, combines microblogging and social media (where it enables people to establish connections, friendships, etc., with other people) to astronomical success. As of early 2013, Twitter boasts over 200 million active users worldwide and around 70 million users in the United States.
Tumblog takes another different approach to blogging, where users are allowed to post different types of multimedia format, like pictures, videos, links, etc., along with the traditional text blog entry. Tumblr (established in 2007) was the first website to introduce and offer the Tumblog service, where it also combines social media elements – and these are the factors of Tumblr’s popularity especially among visually-conscious Internet users. People can follow your blog, like your posts, and re-post/share your entry (“reblog”) onto their own profiles.
The blog has come a long way, from a fundamental medium of communication between individuals into a big online cultural force around the world. And it expects more changes, improvements, and innovations in the foreseeable future. New blogging platforms may also enter the blogging culture.