What is a blog?

Somebody asked me tonight to explain what a blog is. They’d heard the term used loosely on CNN without any definition. Here’s my stab:

The general reference for people looking for the definition of blog can be found in this wonderful piece:
although it’s getting a bit out-of-date now.

I (/we at Blogwise) tend to think of blogs as a particular kind of site where the newest material is always at the top of the page; or otherwise the most visible and instantly accessible piece.

The articles are in reverse chronological order, so with the newest article at the top, you can progressively move down the page to see older articles. The further down you go the older they are.

Blogs are often about a specific subject. These are (in my view) of particular interest – if you’re looking for commentary about, say, information and commentary about education in America, with any luck somebody out there has decided to start a blog about this very subject. They will usually collect information: news articles, press releases and commentary from other sites and of their own in their blog, and with the newest articles at the top, the reader can instantly see what is new or most recent in the site.

Since blogs can be quite opinionated at times (they don’t usually follow rules that you’d expect with traditional journalism about bias and fact-checking!), it’s a good idea to find several blogs from multiple perspectives about a particular subject. Maybe education in America isn’t a particularly contentious issue – but you mentioned right- and left-wing bloggers. There will certainly be a whole range of opinion and commentary there!

The other key thing about blogs is that they are – should you want them to be – incredibly easy to set up and manage. At least in relation to running an ordinary website. www.blogspot.com for example lets you create a new blog in minutes. You can focus on the article-writing, and the computers will organise the website around the articles without your intervention. There are many other hosts.

Blogwise is an attempt to collect and sort out all the different kinds of blogs and the subjects they cover. When a blog is submitted, we ask the owner for some keywords to describe the subject(s) they’re writing about. A lot of blogs are personal journals which frankly don’t attract a significant audience (not that they’re particularly intended to); some blogs are run to collect general material spotted on the Internet: humour sites, interesting sites, or national news; and there are a number of gems out there where people have put a lot of time and effort into a particular subject matter.

This is probably not as concise as you expected, so to be brief about the various words:
blog – site authored with newest post at the top, usually based on particular opinion and/or subject. Analogous in many ways to a journal.
blogger – the people who run or contribute to blogs.
blogosphere – a complete cover-all term for all the blogs in the world.

I hope this is useful stuff! If you have any more questions do let me know.



Bought a dirt-cheap USB desk lamp a while ago (neat little thing, for only a couple of quid from eBuyer)

The instruction manual and box description is great; box description quoted below (and it’s all sic) – classic Japlish:

"Desk Lamp

The lamps are notable in below character

  1. Gentle ray, bright, without frequency change, benefit from preventing eyesight.
  2. By using lowest work voltage:5V,safety & reliability high efficiency, saving energy.
  3. It makes 20 times long life than normal daylight by placing exeed ages cold light tube.
  4. The lamp which not only can form a complete set with USB computer socket, but also can directly set with city power supply.
  5. Connect lampshade & lamp base in soft tube. Economic, beauty, convenience on easy handle light direction."

No more DMOZ

Ah – Google must’ve received a few complaints about the DMOZ move (unless mine was that important 🙂 – they’ve switched back to using their usual text extraction.

Google using DMOZ descriptions for listings?

This is a new one to me. It looks like Google is using DMOZ descriptions of sites in their results. Searching for ‘blog’ brings up the following results:

Blogger: Create your Blog Now — FREE

Free, automated weblog publishing tool that sends updates to a site via FTP.
www.blogger.com/ – 10k – CachedSimilar pages

Google Blog

Official weblog from Google, with news of new features and discursive articles about the search engine.
www.google.com/googleblog/ – 24k – CachedSimilar pages


Blog for America

Blog for America discusses Democracy for America’s grassroots activism, supporting candidates at all levels of government, and features prominent guest
www.blogforamerica.com/ – 101k – CachedSimilar pages

All these descriptions have been taken from the directory (copy+paste the description back into Google to prove it). Google would have previously either quoted a block of text from the site or taken the meta description text (if memory serves me well).

It’s all well and good but (and here’s why I suddenly noticed it):

Blogwise – Blog directory

Cybercarnets en différentes langues classés par pays, par mot-clé ou selon leur popularité.
www.blogwise.com/ – 17k – CachedSimilar pages

…..they’re also taking descriptions from non-English editions of the DMOZ! Eek, I’ll email Google and see if I get a response. No idea how else I’ll ‘fix’ this.

Useful web development tool


Sloppy is a very useful tool for testing websites over 56K modems.

It simulates slow connections (configurable from 9.6K to 512K) and runs as a proxy so you can see how fast your site will appear on, say, a dial-up.

Simple idea worked with great effect, and a must for web developers who all-too-often work comfortably on high-speed connections without realising how painful their glorious designs are to load on dialup.

Best of all, it’s a Java Web Start application – runs right from the website, and in various operating systems.