From Web Logging to Web Blogs To Blogs – The History Of Blogging
Blogs — short for ‘weblogs’ — are a form of online diary or commonplace book. They allow an individual or group to share ideas via the Internet with other people.
The term weblog was created as early as 1997, but it was only in 1999, with the development by a US company called Pyra Labs of software called Blogger, that blogging started to take off. There is now a thriving community of enthusiasts across the world who blog about their passions and interests. Whatever period of history intrigues you, there is almost certainly someone else in the ‘blogo-sphere’ who shares your excitement.
The history of blogs is short and begins with a handful of Web sites compiled back in 1997. In that year Jorn Barger, an on-line personality and editor of Robotwisdom, named this kind of site a “Weblog. At first, Weblogs were little more than Web sites where the site designer collected links to other, related sites. If you were interested, for example, in rescuing greyhounds, you could create a Weblog of links to other dog rescue sites. Over time, the Weblog designers added comments about the links, such as “this link may not work,” or “slow to load but worth waiting for.” These sites were often a great help to a Web surfer.
The number of these early sites was limited, however, since to create a Weblog, you needed to be able to write computer code in HTML. All that changed in 1999, with the introduction of Blogger — on-line software that allowed anyone to create a Weblog without any need to know HTML code. Hundreds of blogs suddenly became hundreds of thousands — well, no one really knows for sure how many blogs are “out there.”
Academic historians were among the first to start blogging and there are now a number of ‘professional’ blogs about history. Tenured Radical by Claire Potter, Professor of History at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, combines reflections on academia with astute historical and political analysis. Mark Grimsley is a historian from State University Ohio and posts about his research as well as wider thoughts on teaching and education at Blog Them Out Of The Stone Age. Within the UK, one of the most high-profile academic blogs is It’s a Dons Life, by Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University. Her site is an addictive mixture of posts about the classical world and contemporary commentary, which collectively underline the importance of the former for understanding the latter. Dan Todman, lecturer in modern history at Queen Mary, University of London, blogs at Trench Fever, where he sums up his reasons for blogging as ‘to spark some debates and to have some fun’. Some historians have chosen to blog anonymously, offering more scurrilous insights into the world of academic historians, such as the acerbic Nothing Recedes Like Success with its gossip and rumours about the US historical profession.
Academics, however, are now firmly in the minority when it comes to history blogs. One of the blogo-sphere’s great attractions is its democratic form. There are a number of websites hosting blogs for free, which means all you need to start a blog is access to the Internet and a passion for the subject. As a result, postgraduates can rub shoulders with professors, and ‘amateurs’ can mix comfortably with ‘professionals’. Some of the most fun, stimulating and intelligent blogs are run by independent researchers and enthusiasts who devote their spare time to reading and researching – in short, people with a passion for the subject. You can learn as much, if not more, from such blogs as from the weightiest academic monograph.
As the blogo-sphere has grown, so have institutions linked to it. A number of ‘blog carnivals’ have emerged to showcase the best blogging each month. A blog carnival is a collection of posts on a particular theme or topic. Bloggers take turns to volunteer to host a particular edition. Many times the post is nominated by other bloggers. Blog carnivals are an excellent way to know about the topic being discussed.
With blogs so simple to make, anyone who had something to say (and that’s everyone!) could say it to whomever would log on and read it.
Bloggers began to record day-to-day thoughts and observations on school, the news, dating, etc. Furthermore, a blogger could go back to his or her site and add comments. The most recent comments would appear on the screen at the top of a long list of comments. Archives of earlier postings were created. And the best part was that someone else could comment on your latest posting, making your blog a new kind of conversation: an interactive, on-line, live journal.
Today’s bloggers have many choices of servers or software for creating their own blog, which can then be opened to selected groups of on-line friends or be made available to the entire on-line world.
Obviously, there are lots of shortcuts for typing in a blog. Often, “th” in a word is left out, and numbers are used for parts of words. The language is not too different from what’s used on vanity license plates.
If you can’t find a blog that piques your interest, then it is easy to start your own. A wide range of websites will not only carry your blog free of charge, but also provide you with daily statistics about how many people are visiting and what they are reading. Blogger, Livejournal, Word-press or Typepad are among the most popular. Sign up for an account, get writing and start a conversation with other history bloggers by commenting on their posts. If you are passionate about history, your blog will quickly find an audience. If you do so, it will be the start of an addiction you’ll find hard to shake. Some people have also taken blogging as their livelihood and are dependent on it for their day to day needs.
Getting your own blog started is simple. Keeping it current may be a bit more work, but if you’re looking for a conversation with who-knows-how-many contacts from who-knows-where on the globe, a dip into blogland might be just the thing. U 2 cn B ere!