It is hardly the first such look, but WebReview
has a nice piece on the web logging phenomenon, The
Blogging Revolution. To my mind, web logging (blogging for short) is here
to stay and makes the Internet far more interesting.
Much of the media coverage of blogging treats it as a new phenomenon, but in
reality it goes back to before the web was born when Tim Berners-Lee saw the
web as integrating both content creation and browsing. Unfortunately, Mosaic,
Netscape, Microsoft and others delivered only half a solution — the browsing
part — but didn’t integrate any decent creation tools into the browser.
Today, however, there are starting to be an abundance of creation tools that
integrate with the browser — really are the browser. Blogger
is the best known of these. Blogger makes it trivially easy to keep a running
commentary news site. I used it for about three months at the end of 1999 to
keep my sites updated and found it an excellent tool for blogging. The only
drawback is it does not have more advanced content management features, but
most of its audience probably does not need those.
The tool I am currently using, Conversant,
not only lets me update my site daily but it lets me manipulate those daily
updates in ways that Blogger cannot. I can take this page, for example, and
make it appear as any number of static URLs, or include it as part of a newsletter
page, along with other entries, on making web sites.
But the point is not Blogger vs. Conversant (they are different tools suited
for different purposes), but rather what has come to be the traditional paradigm
of web sites, the .com phenomenon, with grassroots shoestring operations. The
conventional wisdom 18 to 24 months ago was that the corporate suits had all
but taken over the web. Boo.Com, Salon.Com and other top flight sites were going
to push the little guy aside. Instead, the little guy (or gal) is back with
I have been arguing from the time I sent my first e-mail message back in the
early 1980s that the Internet is pretty much going to destroy the traditional
media model. Look, I want to buy my shoes from Nike, but I do not exactly want
to sit around talking to Philip Knight or his cronies for conversation. I think
Salon.Com is easily the best online magazine out there, and even it comes across
as boring and pretentious most of the time. It is better than most of the print
crap out there, but I actually spend more time reading blogs maintained by one
or two people in their spare time than I do reading Salon.Com.
Blogs also solve one of the problems that plagues traditional media — with
Blogs there is instant peer review. I watch a lot of television, for example,
and constantly see talking heads make basic errors of fact or reasoning. Writing
a letter of complaint to a major network to point out an error is a severe waste
of time. With a Blog, though, I can instantly link to the offending passage,
point out the error, and let readers decide. The person making the statement
may choose to respond in similar fashion. Contrary to the popular opinion that
online communities generate more errors, my experience is that they are no more
factually challenged than traditional media, plus they include tools to make
it easier to catch and track errors.
As the tools to create web sites become simpler and cheaper (could it be any
cheaper to create a web site?), the problem for media corporations needing to
make millions in advertising is going to skyrocket. This may be a pie-in-the-sky
prediction, but I think it is likely that in another 20-25 years the current
media system — where large conglomerates merge with each other to take advantage
of scales of economy — will gradually give way to a grand dispersal of the
media where a typical person’s daily newspaper is half a dozen small independent
feeds collated together rather than the product of a single business entity.
Why not beat the rush and try out Blogger or Conversant or even Manila.
They are all free, and do a good job of making blogging a cinch.