If you've been on the Internet for any length of time, you're probably familiar with blogs (short for "web logs"). A blog is a kind of online journaleither very personal or very publicthat its author updates frequently with new musings and information. What you might not know is that anyone can create a blog. It's really quite easy, and can be quite fun. All you have to do is find a blog-hosting service and a blog creation toolsuch as Blogger.
Blogger (www.blogger.com) was one of the first sites on the Web to offer free blog creation and hosting. Anyone can sign up to Blogger, for free, and within minutes create their first blog. It's that easy.
Blogger is part of the Google family of websites, and Google recently launched a new version of Blogger. If you've used Blogger in the past, you'll like the new version much better; it's faster, easier to use, and a lot more flexible than the old version.
So, if you want to create your own blogor migrate your old blog to the new version of Bloggerread on. You'll be online in no time!
This Digital Short Cut explains the beta test version of the new Blogger. Even though this beta version is available to the public, it still has some bugs in it, and Google continues to add features and functionality during the beta period. Therefore, some of the features discussed in this Digital Short Cut might change over time as Google refines the new Blogger.
Welcome to the Blogosphere
Ablog is a journal that's hosted on the Web and visible to other web users. Blogging is the activity of updating a blog; someone who keeps a blog is a blogger; and the entire universe of blogs is the blogosphere.
Bloggers typically update their blogs on a regular basisweekly, daily, or even hourly, depending on the blogger. The process of updating a blog is facilitated by the blogging software used, such as that provided by Blogger. Hosting a blog requires little or no technical expertise on the part of the blogger.
If you're diligent about keeping your blog fresh, you'll find that blogging takes timeeven when you utilize an easy-to-use tool such as Blogger. Not only do you have to create the blog, you have to create new blog posts on a frequent basis. Even if it only takes you 5 or 10 minutes to write and post a blog entry, the time starts to add up after awhile. Knowing this, how do so many bloggers find time for all these postingsand why?
For what it's worth, there isn't a single answer to that question.
You see, some people view their blogs as a kind of personal-yetpublic scrapbookan online diary to record their thoughts for posterity. Even if no one else ever looks at it, it's still valuable to the author as a repository of thoughts and information they can turn to later.
But that isn't always the case. Although some blogs are completely free-form, many other blogs have some sort of focus; there are blogs devoted to hobbies, to sports teams, to local events, to particular industries, and so on. There are people who blog for a cause, political or otherwise. (In fact, many people get their first exposure to the blogosphere via the network of leftwing and right-wing blogsespecially during an election year!)
In a way, the most serious bloggers are like columnists in the traditional media. They write with a passion, a point of view, and a personal sensibility that makes their blogs extremely interesting to read. Even bloggers who don't inject personal comments still offer a viewpoint based on what they choose to include and link to in their blogs. It's an interesting world out there in the blogosphere, and it's revolutionizing journalism (and journals) for the new online reality.
Of course, a blog can be moreor lessthan personal comments and observations. A big part of blogging is about interlinking to other blogs and to news and information on the Web. Look at any blog, and you're likely to see a list of related blogs (sometimes titled, "friends of . . ."). Bloggers like to link to other blogs that they enjoyas well as to news stories, photos, audio files, you name it.
In fact, many blogs are nothing more than links to interesting blog entriesthere isn't always a lot of original content there. The blogger finds something interesting, and then uses his blog to draw attention to that other posting. In this way, bloggers are a lot like radio disc jockeys, "spinning" links and snippets just as a DJ spins songs.
That said, serious bloggers not only sort through the blogosphere to find the most interesting articles, they also provide some background and organization to these postings, and in many cases add their own commentary. The best blogs have a definite point of view, no matter what content they're linking to.
And that's what blogging is all about. Even though a blog is public for everyone to read, blogging is ultimately an intensely personal endeavor. As with most personal endeavors, there are few, if any, rules. When you launch your Blogger blog, the words and pictures you post are yours and yours alone; the blog is just a tool you use to express yourself online.
For what it's worth, I personally contribute to three different blogstwo of which are hosted by Blogger. Googlepedia: The Blog (googlepedia.blogspot.com) is the place to find new information about Google and updates to my Googlepedia book. The Curmudgeon Speaks (curmudgeonspeaks.blogspot.com) is my personal blog, full of all manner of rants and raves. And I'm a regular contributor to AOL's My Plugged In Life (digital-lifestyle.aol.com/ my-plugged-in-life), which celebrates all things related to the digital lifestyle.