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rutty
15.03.2006, 11:58
I have a blog and I like blogging. I read other people's blogs. I'm a blogger, they're bloggers. Lots of people blog.

However I still meet people that have no idea what a blog is. Some people seem to have the misconception that it's some sort of sexual deviancy. This is not true.

What is blogging?

Blogging is the art of writing in a blog. The word "blog" is a corruption of two words - web log. Blogs are just on-line journals that bloggers, people like you and me, write in. They are becoming more and more popular and sometimes it seems that everyone has one, and yet there are many people that remain clueless to such activity. This article is for them.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogging) has a more verbose description:


A blog (a portmanteau made by contracting the phrase "web log") is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Since its appearance in 1995, blogging has emerged as a popular means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world.

Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software on regular web hosting services.

All sorts of people are bloggers. Anyone from schoolkids to grandmas really with everyone in between. If you have a hobby, like Brass Banding or some obscure fetish for instance, then there'll be someone blogging about it on the internet. This is the great thing about blogging - anyone can get their words published on the internet.

This is also a bad thing, for some people. Anyone can get their words published on the internet! There are millions and millions of blogs, most of them complete and utter rubbish. You only need to be able to type things on a keyboard to make your incohesive, incomprehensible thoughts published online. Spelling and grammar? What's that? Even those with even a tenuous grasp of their native language can get published.

I see this as a good thing. Yes, I have absolutely no interest in some teen's blog about collecting some set of Magic cards (or whatever they're called) but at least he's doing something creative, putting his thoughts into print. Many people post their blogs anonymously just to get their thoughts out. Some people find it cathartic to write in their blogs, perhaps just to have a whinge about their day at work or something else that's annoyed them. It's a way of communicating your thoughts to yourself, and yet let others see what you're thinking. You often find that you end up with messages from completely random people - blogging can be a social thing too.

You can blog about any subject that you like and there'll be someone in the world that will be interested in it.

OK, so how do I blog?

Well, there are a number of ways to do this. The easy way is to just sign up for a free blogging service, click a few buttons and off you go! Type away to your heart's content. This is a good way for those with no knowledge of web design to start a blog. All you need are a few basic internet-browsing skills and some fingers and you can have your very own blog.

There are no end of sites that provide this sort of service, but here are a few options:

http://static.flickr.com/31/112830711_2c911f9eb4_m.jpgBlogger (http://www.blogger.com/). This blogging site, owned by Google, is my favourite free service. It's easy to use and you can chose from a nice-looking selection of templates so that with only a few clicks you can have a nice-looking blog set-up in no time at all.

Livejournal (http://www.livejournal.com/) provides a similar service and, like Blogger, has a massive user-base and active blogging community built-in. Both Blogger and Livejournal have some nice features that allow you to join groups of interest, so that you can find other blogs or bloggers that have similar tastes to yourself.

There are plenty of other, smaller services that offer free blogging too. I can't possibly link to them all but it's worth having a sniff around the internet and seeing what takes your fancy. Most offer similar, restricted tools for free users then charge for the more advanced features, such as personalised templates or removal of adverts.

http://static.flickr.com/45/112830710_45f6e2705e_m.jpgThere are some services that offer blogging with additional tools. Two of these are MSN Spaces (http://spaces.msn.com/) and Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/). These not only offer a blog but image galleries and other funky tools to spruce up your web page. These are free too and most often frequented by the younger amongst us. Personally, I often find that these sites are an affront to visual design tastes but they are very popular among certain demographics and if someone wants a bright pink background, well, good luck to them is what I say.

My own blog is hosted on a paid-for server and I've installed a specialist blogging application on this so that I have maximum control over the site. This method is for those with at least some knowledge of web design or for those with more of a geeky slant to their nature. I'm able to do anything I like to my site and it affords me much more versatility that subscribing to free service like Blogger, for example.

I use Movable Type (http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/) for my blogging application. This is one of the most popular blogging programs but there are plenty of others to chose from too. Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/) is gaining a lot of praise recently for it's ease of installation and use but what you use is up to you. These applications provide an administrative "back-end" that make blogging so much easier. All you have to do is figure out how to install it on your own hosting, pick a template that you like (or design your own) and off you go.

Bloggers are only limited by their imagination and grasp of their native language. Some are kids that talk is some foreign language only understandable to those under 20. Many bloggers are intelligent news-addicts that like to put down commentary on the latest news articles or other items of interest. Others. like me I suppose, just talk about mixed subjects, posting the odd joke and generally chat about what's happened that day. You can write what you like and someone, somewhere will like it.

Why not give it a go?