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although it’s getting a bit out-of-date now.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.