You can find a weblog for every taste, and my
taste runs toward Dave
Barry. The headlines he highlights today are
about worms at Chernobyl now being able to enjoying
more sex and a woman who claimed not to have
realized she was throwing a knife into her son's
Well, that's Dave for you. Everyday he adds some
tidbits to his weblog--headlines, funny web sites,
things that are happening to him. ("The woman
sitting next to me on the plane from Charleston to
Atlanta told me she had a 2-year-old son whose
obsession is getting shoes--anybody's shoes--and
taking them into the bathroom, and filling them
with water. 'That's all he ever wants to do,' she
On the opposite end of the spectrum, weblogs
played are playing a major role in disseminating
news about the events in Iraq. They include reports
by troops on the ground (for example, LT Smash at
and a weblog
by an anonymous Iraqi that reported the events
until posting abruptly ended on March 24.
Weblogs are all the rage these days. Actually
they've been so for a couple years, at least. They
are web sites that use simple software that allows
you to easily post short diary-like updates, in
chronological order, to a home page.
Originally called weblogs, they are now often
simply called "blogs." A "blogger" is someone who
maintains a weblog. And the blogosphere is the
universe of blogs and bloggers. I'm not making this
And it's all free. "Blogger" also refers to the
software that you can download to create your own
weblog. You can find this software, and a lot more
about weblogs, at Blogger.
Their service automates the process and offers
templates so that you don't need to know anything
about creating web sites.
Of course, you'll then need someplace on the
Internet to host your weblog if you don't already
have your own web site. Many people turn to
which is also free--and which is apparently now
part of Blogger. Which itself was purchased by
Google in February. Yahoo and AOL will also be
offering blogging services soon.
If you're interested in creating your own, check
out the useful
intro to weblogs at About. It has a good
explanation of what they are and how to get
started, including a page that tells you how to do
it in 15 steps.
Weblogs are starting to have real influence.
Many people felt as if the weblogs told the real
story of the war in Iraq and gave a better picture
than traditional media. Some of the best weblogs
offer social and political commentary, sometimes
focusing on news stories that mainstream media have
For example, The Guardian in the UK reported
that weblogs led to the resignation of former
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. The Washington
Post, the New York Times, and the major TV networks
initially didn't cover the story of Lott's
inappropriate comments on the occasion of the 100th
birthday of Strom Thurmond.
It was the bloggers who condemned the remarks
and continued to hammer Lott. They also did their
homework and uncovered a pattern of similar public
remarks. The charge was led by Josh Marshall in his
Points Memo. It wasn't until five days of buzz
in the blogosphere that the national media finally
picked up on the story.
One leading blog pundit is Glenn Reynolds, a law
professor at the University of Tennessee. He began
with a simple weblog intended to contain witty
But in the wake of September 11 he did such an
effective job at providing links to useful and
fascinating information, that news of his site
quickly spread. Soon he had tens of thousands of
people visiting his site each day.
And this is one of the virtues of the
Internet--it can give a voice to a single
individual that can reach the whole world.
I haven't yet found an excellent directory of
weblogs. For a snapshot of weblog action, try Dave
which lists weblogs that have been updated in the
last three hours. Blogger.com has lots of links to
weblogs. The Guardian has a useful page of
information and links on their web site. (See
the "Weblog Guide" link at left.) And Glenn
has quite an extensive list. Blog-City
has a large directory, but many seem to be
self-absorbed teen blogs abandoned after a few
The only weblogs I visit regularly are
technology related, this being a perfect format for
Like the Internet itself, the blogosphere is
multifaceted, a bit chaotic, and filled with gems
and dross. You decide.
© 2003 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.