Search

User login

Log on, blog on

by Payal Dhar

Our social life, the way we communicate with our fellow beings, is what apparently sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Of course, nothing has changed the way we interact with each other more than the Internet and the World Wide Web. But if blogging gurus are to be believed, things are set to change further.

It is hard to imagine that a phenomenon with a thoroughly unsophisticated name like blogging could affect our lives in a positive way. For the uninitiated, it is a short form for Web logging or Web logs. It refers to a journal or diary (in other words, a log) on the Web. Dating back by about half a decade, a blog is a forum on which users post their thoughts on just about anything under the sun. It's your own space on the Web, generally free, where you can sound off, write down how many times you brushed your teeth today, share your insight on England's latest rugby conquests or rant about George Bush.

Search for the term 'blog' on one of the Internet's most popular search engines, Google.com, and you'll get over 3 million results. It tells you how popular the movement is. The bloggers' community is growing even as you read this. No doubt it's a great way to communicate, reach out to like-minded people and share ideas without bothering about the shackles of geography.

You can share just about anything and everything. It can be intensely personal or deal with public and popular issues. It can be silly or serious, fact or fiction. It can be YOU. But if you think that blogs are just random musings of people too jaded to go out and 'get a life', hold on for a moment. Web logging is being called the new face of democratic journalism. If you have an opinion and want a stage to air it, or you just want to makes some friends, welcome to blogging.

A definitive history of blogging would be quite impossible to speculate on, but it is generally accepted that they started off as something like a page of Internet bookmarks. Someone found something they really liked on the Web and put the links down on a page for other people. It really took off from there.

How, then, is blogging different from a bulletin board? The main difference is that bulletin boards are moderated. The tone, and sometimes even topics and threads, are set by someone else. They decide what is proper for the rest of the world to see. Whereas blogs are a total reflection of the person to whom they belong. You control your blog space and control what appears on it. You may choose to keep it personal or ask people to respond.

Forget the hassles of setting up a Web site - or even chasing publishers and publications. You need neither technical skills nor a useful contact. Free software applications do what's required and the world is your audience. Starting a blog is as simple as going to a site and setting up your account, quite like an e-mail account. For starters, try Pitas.com, Blogger.com and Blogspot.com. There are thousands of others.

Former New York Times writer Andrew Sullivan says that blogging 'could be to words what Napster was to music - only this time it'll really work'! Whereas newspapers, magazines and Web sites are tinged with editorial policies, and publishing houses dictated by what the market wants, blogs suffer no such obstacles. Sullivan started out as a blogger on a free site, and today is actually making money out of blogging! Another good example of a journalist turned 'community builder' David Blake's Blog.org.

In fact, media organizations are beginning to have their own blogs as well. The UK's Guardian is a good example, where they have an organized list of interesting links and postings. Many corporate houses see an intranet blog as a good way to keep in touch with employees' moods and encourage better communication across all channels.

So you see, blogging is not a lonely hearts' club. It is serious business - quite literally so. Yet, if you indeed are lonely and want nothing more than a few people to share your thoughts and ideas with, a blog is a good place to start.  Who knows, like Andrew Sullivan, you might end up with a readership of a quarter of a million each month! 

If you're convinced, let's see what we can do to get you on one of the fastest growing bandwagons on the Web today. I'll walk you through Pitas.com as an example, simply because it is extremely easy. Go to http://www.pitas.com and click to sign up. Choose a username. Your Web log will be at username.pitas.com, so make sure you don't choose something embarrassing. Fill in some basic details, such as your name and e-mail address. A password to access the administration area for your blog will be mailed to you, so make sure the e-mail ID is a valid one. Retreive the password and sign in. Then blog away. It helps if you have something to say!

Another popular site is Livejournal.com. You need to be invited to join up, but they give you a lot of control, such as whether your blog should be public or for access only to a select few. The sign-up is similar in most cases. Again, in most cases, you can just cut and paste (or type in) your stuff, and not bother about the intricacies of Web page design. However, if you like tinkering around with HTML, you could end up creating a work of art. Yet other blog sites offer freeware that allow you to post your work. Sometimes, even sending an e-mail will suffice.

Remember that as a blogger you will be part of a movement and, literally, leave your footprints on the sands of time. For, as Nik Rawlinson of Personal Computer World says, 'History is not just what has happened, but what we are doing now, and tomorrow we will create the history of the future. If we do nothing to preserve it, it will be gone by tomorrow night.'

So go ahead, log on and blog away.

Some blogging resources and links to get you in the mood:
http://www.pitas.com
http://www.livejournal.com
http://www.andrewsullivan.com
http://www.blog.org
http://www.blogger.com
http://editthispage.com
http://www.blogspot.com
http://www.blogfootball.com
http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger
http://www.noahgrey.com/greysoft
http://www.movabletype.org
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weblog

Get Social with enableall