What is a blog?

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Sharing a journal with the world online


A blog is a website which enables individuals, groups or organisations to easily publish content on the Internet. It is a website that's like an online diary.

"Blog" is a shortened form of the combined term "web log", which literally means to keep a "log" on the "web" of the events in some part of your life. Blogs began by publishing online diaries often with a particular focus of interest to others eg "Around China in 80 days" or "Gastronomic Adventures in France". Cheaper and faster to update than writing a book, some early blogs attracted massive followings of readers from around the world. These days, blogs are used for a wide range of online publishing purposes.

The concept "blog" can be used as a noun to refer to the website where information or opinions are published. It can also be used as a verb referring the the act of posting or updating material on a blog website. We refer to the publishers of this type of website as "bloggers" and the act of posting new entries as "blogging".

A blog website incorporates a number of distinct features which have contributed to blogging becoming a social phenomenon:

  • The ease of publishing a blog post has circumvented the requirement for traditional publishers as intermediaries for distributing information.
  • Many blog websites incorporate the feature for anyone to comment on posts facilitating the ability for immediate interaction and networking on a global scale.
  • Syndication technology using feeds generated from blog sites enable automated connections and reconfiguration of information not previously possible with traditional means of publishing, thus signalling a shift for users searching for information to information finding its users.

Defining a blog

There is no precise definition of a blog to differentiate them from other websites, however blogs do have common features. In addition, blog software can also be used to construct websites which are not primarily intended for blogging purposes. Read the following extract of Wikipedia's article on a blog:

Wikipedia svg logo-en.svg  Blog
A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first)

Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries; others function more as online brand advertising of a particular individual or company. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic.

The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important contribution to the popularity of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (art blogs), photographs (photoblogs), videos (video blogs or "vlogs"), music (MP3 blogs), and audio (podcasts).

This extract is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. It uses material from the article "Blog", retrieved 13 02 2013.

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What's the big deal about blogs?

View the 2007 video, Blogs in Plain English produced by Common Craft.

While somewhat dated and limited to the use of blogs for publishing news, this video provides a useful overview of blogging technology.