I was fulfilling some orders this morning, you know the daily grind, and my thoughts fell on blogging in general. I thought about the history of blogging and how it has changed over the years. But what my thoughts focused on more so is how the increase in technology seemed to have downgraded the professional image of blogging in the eyes of the (wait for it) blogger.
When we launch these blogs, I do not think we really understand its significance. At least I didn’t.
Anyone can create a blog today. It is as easy as signing up for a Word Press free account. You can write about what you want and organize your blog how you see fit. Though it is easy to do, have you ever thought about what it means to be a blogger? I remember watching television over the years and seeing someone speak. Sometimes the person speaking had a title that said “Blogger” and as he or she spoke concerning their subject of expertise I never second guessed that they were a professional. “Blogger” was no different to me then than “Attorney at Law” or “Psychologist”. That is because before the blog evolved into what it is today, it was a big deal.
“The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running account of their personal lives. Most such writers called themselves diarists, journalists, or journalers. The Open Pages webring included members of the online-journal community. Justin Hall, who began eleven years of personal blogging in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College, is generally recognized as one of the earliest bloggers, as is Jerry Pournelle. Another early blog was Wearable Wireless Webcam, an online shared diary of a person’s personal life combining text, video, and pictures transmitted live from a wearable computer and EyeTap device to a web site in 1994.
The blog was independently invented by Ian Ring, in 1997. His online journaling platform was called an “e-journal”. Ring’s project was later abandoned, but was rewritten in 2006 but didn’t become popular amid the overwhelming flood of other CMS systems becoming available, including WordPress. Ring still maintains that he “invented the blog”, which is technically true even though there were other projects that could make the same claim with greater authority.
Another early example of an early online entry into the evolution of blogging was created by Dave Winer. Winer is considered a pioneer of Web syndication techniques and has been considered one of the “fathers” of blogging. As the editor of Scripting News claims that his site “bootstrapped the blogging revolution and that it is the longest running Web Log on the internet”, Winer did not use the term “blog” and has never claimed the term. However he has gone on record as saying that “The first blogs were inspired by this blog, in fact many of them, including Barger’s Robot Wisdom, used my software.”
Websites, including both corporate sites and personal homepages, had and still often have “What’s New” or “News” sections, often on the index page and sorted by date. One example of a news based “weblog” is the Drudge Report founded by the self-styled maverick reporter Matt Drudge, though apparently Drudge dislikes this classification. Two others—Institute for Public Accuracy and Arts & Letters Daily—began posting news releases featuring several news-pegged one-paragraph quotes several times a week beginning in 1998. One noteworthy early precursor to a blog was the tongue-in-cheek personal website that was frequently updated by Usenet legend Kibo.
Early weblogs were simply manually updated components of common websites. However, the evolution of tools to facilitate the production and maintenance of web articles posted in reverse chronological order made the publishing process feasible to a much larger, less technical, population. Ultimately, this resulted in the distinct class of online publishing that produces blogs we recognize today.” – Wikipedia
So what of all this? What’s the point?
From personal reflection, understanding the magnitude of what it means to blog helps me to maintain a level of professionalism on my blog; whether that is the appearance or the quality of the content. It helps me to remember that people are browsing the internet and coming across this blog from Google everyday in hopes of finding solutions to problems, or to overall be informed. It is not to say that blogs are not fun because I have lots of fun on this blog. And as we have read the first blogs were online diaries. Interestingly enough, many of the blogs I come across have this format.
The blogger is not a writer in the organized sense, just someone using the web as a way to publicly vent their thoughts (which I think we all do to an extent). It is just to say that I have come to look at blogging in a new light. As opposed to when I first started this blog, I place a kind of value on it now that I didn’t really think about before. Not value as in its my whole world or anything, but value as in the fact that real people are taking the time to stop here and to read and to learn. Therefore, how I present myself online, as a reflection of my real self, is not just some mediocre past time. What we write here is a big deal. Every day you are helping people in every aspect of their lives. To be a blogger then is kinda a big deal. I would even say it is something worth mentioning on a resume.
Timeline: Blogging Evolution:
Swarthmore student Justin Hall creates first blog ever, Links.net.
Online diarist Jorn Barger coins the term “Weblog” for “logging the Web.”
Programmer Peter Merholz shortens “Weblog” to “blog.”
Blogger rolls out the first popular, free blog-creation service.
Boing Boing is born.
Heather Armstrong is fired for discussing her job on her blog, Dooce. “Dooced” becomes a verb: “Fired for blogging.”
Nick Denton launches Gizmodo, the first in what will become a blog empire. Blogads launches, the first broker of blog advertising.
Talking Points Memo highlights Trent Lott’s racially charged comments; thirteen days later, Lott resigns from his post as Senate majority leader.
Gawker launches, igniting the gossip-blog boom.
“Salam Pax,” an anonymous Iraqi blogger, gains worldwide audience during the Iraq war.
Google launches AdSense, matching ads to blog content.
The first avalanche of ads on political blogs.
Jason Calacanis founds Weblogs, Inc., which eventually grows into a portfolio of 85 blogs.
Denton launches Wonkette.
Calacanis poaches Gizmodo writer Peter Rojas from Denton. Denton proclaims himself “royally shafted” on his personal blog.
Merriam-Webster declares “blog” the “Word of the Year.”
Study finds that 32 million Americans read blogs.
The Huffington Post launches.
Calacanis sells his blogs to AOL for $25 million.
An estimated $100 million worth of blog ads are sold this year.
Time leases Andrew Sullivan’s blog, adding it to its Website.
The Huffington Post surges to become fourth most-linked-to blog.
9 thoughts on “The Evolution of the Blog”
I agree! I sometimes feel that the best thing I get from reading other people’s blogs is when they write about their personal lives and I find all these things we share. It’s almost like talking to people.
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Exactly. Very true. And you know what? We are talking to people! How exciting to read blogs that reflect human emotion.
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Morning, fabulously insightful article.
On the flip side, I personally, love how blogging has evolved. It is true; setting up a blog these days is not difficult. Thank goodness! It has provided a wonderful opportunity for many to practice the art of expression with words. Imagine that? Millions of ‘new age bloggers’ improving their literary skills, having been given the opportunity to ‘create’ and share their work rather than simply leaving it to the professionals.
Your blog is a fine example of professionalism-well written and well presented. I have learnt many things from you.
There are also blogs I follow that involve ‘the venting of thoughts’. Perhaps not as professional through the lens of a ‘Novelist or ‘Literary genius’ but wonderfully authentic, unique and entertaining. These blogs have no advice, poor English in some cases, are flooded with emotionalism, and would never feature in ‘The New York Times’, but they are a gift to me. Why? Their honesty, their transparency, their heart and their vulnerability are relatable and endearing traits that draw me to them.
I am so pleased, that ‘blogging’ has evolved to such a point that anyone who desires to spread their wings and risk exposing themselves to the world has the opportunity to do so, with the knowledge in mind, that there are plenty of experienced bloggers/writers/pro’s to learn from, plenty of support from fellow bloggers, fabulous on-line WordPress courses to advance their skills and their own little readership whether 20 or 20,000, that will love to engage with them.
Thanks for your ‘food for thought’,
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Wow Nicole. I enjoyed that. Thank you for such a well written analysis of this topic. I too enjoy the transparency of todays blogs. It is refreshing considering the level of “fakeness” present in the world.
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True. Have a fab day Yecheilyah xx
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Reblogged this on Heart Story.
True confession; when I first read Evolution of the Blog, I felt (not thought) my blog is a waste of cyberspace. It was late into an 18 hour day and I don’t do tired well. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and returned to really greatly enjoy and appreciate the article.
Having said that I want to add, applying the advice of expert bloggers 😉 novices can cut their teeth on comments (replies). Sure, friendly, warm fuzzy positive encouragement is sustaining, and I also welcome constructive criticism (critiques) while in context with the work, pointing out style snags, etc.
Like many writers I have hurdles to overcome as I hone my writing skills. Blogging provides the discipline and accountability to the craft, which helps us develop into artisans. I have a long way to go still, but I’m very thankful for the wealth of resources within the blogging community.
This is an excellent article, Yecheilya and I’ve enjoyed the conversation thread.
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I have a long way to go as well and have learned a lot from the blogging community. I love how you stated that “blogging provides the discipline and accountability to the craft”, I agree.
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