The first time I really heard someone talk heatedly about blogs was when I had dinner with Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury, John Markoff of the New York Times, Howard Rheingold, Justin Hall and John Vasconcellos. I was probably the only one who hadn't been "turned on" yet. Dan was a strong believer that it would change everything. Markoff still gave a lot of credit to the value of editors and the role of mass media. I still really didn't understand the difference between blogging and having your own web page. I've had a diary online for years and I was using Dreamweaver to edit my html.

Justin was scooping around for some more stuff to do with the "free time" and I wanted to update my web page so he found Movable Type, a cool "personal publishing system" which allows you to create blogs and set it up for me. (He's currently co-webmaster of my site.) The amazing thing is how much technology has advanced. The software saves the messages in database format, allows you to export to other blog software, lets you syndicate stuff in xml, lets you "ping" other blogs to let them know when you have updated your content, keeps templates, style sheets and content separate so different people can manage the different roles, etc. The simple advance in technology make the world of difference. It is like the different between gopher and html.

So, when I soft launched my blog, I emailed Howard and asked him to help me get linked to. He told me that I needed to scoop a story. Then everyone would pick it up and link to me. Ah ha! That's how it works. The network of blogs is like an amazing network of people doing peer review, adding their spin. Each blogger being an entry into this network for his/her readers.

So I started reading boing boing and surfing the net in a totally different way, keeping an eye out for the tell-tale links and discussion area of blog networks. Anyway... You learn something new every day.

The other amazing thing is, like the Internet itself, blogging is really difficult to "get" unless you spend sometime actually surfing around blogs and seeing how it all links together and how cool content collects into pools on the leading blogs. It's like the "tupperware syndrome." You need to experience it to "get it." So many people who are generally really clued in, still haven't caught on to what this blog thing is all about. I'm going to blame the fact that I didn't "get" the blog thing until Dan Gillmor's rant on the fact that I live in Tokyo now and don't get face to face rants from fanatical Internet gurus as often. I didn't "get" the imact of PPP until John Markoff gave me a copy of MacPPP. Maybe there is a trend here. Joi gets his new ideas from newspaper reporters in California! Anyway, when you finish reading this, go to boing boing and trying spending an hour reading, clicking, reading, clicking and see how much you learn!

The real media is also taking a serious look at blogs. The Economist had an interesting article "The trees fight back".

Howard posted this link in a comment here, but I think this article "Is Blogging a Fad?" is a great article on blogs that you should read.

14 Comments

So I wonder what percentage of blog comments are about blogs. This one for instance...

Ha!

I actually thought about that as I was writing this entry... What got me to write it was the storm of people asking me what a blog was when I spammed one of my favorite web conferencing communities about my new blog.

I think a lot of blogs talk about blogs, because we bloggers are a community and not enough people recognize the community yet. Also, like most new "protocols" people spend a lot of their time at the beginning talking about the protocol rather than actually using it. I think I talked a lot more ABOUT the Internet at the beginning than actually using it for anything useful.

I do think that there is a qualitative difference, and I don't think we all agree on that. I think that we are still in the midst of a "controversy" and until it becomes a "fact" that blogs are cool, I think we will talk about them a lot. I'm going to write about this cool book my sister turned me on to called "Science in Action" by Bruno Latour once I finish reading it. It is about how science is based on facts becoming facts through references and how "social" technology and science are...

I think bloggers talking about blogs is a temporary phase. Like all media, it is worthy of ongoing analysis, and I'm sure that there will always be some blog analysis blogging, but the current navel-gazing fascination reminds me a bit of the days when people in virtual communities talked about virtual communities a great deal. As David A. Smith posted, it's part of the growing awareness of community by the people who are the early community-builders.

I just finished a book, Smart Mobs, that involved looking at the latest happenings in a number of fields, including wireless networking, spectrum regulation, and other areas where news breaks quickly. I found that I was getting my best, freshest information more from blogs than any other source. I'm sure that if I write a book about peanut butter or fashions among 80-year-olds, that I will find blogs about those topics -- and the community of bloggers about those topics that those blogs link to -- to be the best sources of information.

I'm just getting used to Moveable Type. Why didn't the links I included show up? I used standard html tags.

http://www.rheingold.com/smartmobs
http://www.boingboing.net

I think html in comments is turned off. I think it is a security thing. If you post just the URL, Moving Type will convert it into a clickable link.

I started looking for my first blog-like activities and came up with these. The first is not as bloglike as the second. In December, 1994, I published the first of a number of columns that were also printed in the SF Examiner. My online version was strictly my idea. Most of them were torture-tested on the Well before submitted to my editor, David Talbot, who started Salon a couple years after that. Look at the subject of my first column!:
http://www.well.com/user/hlr/jam/joi/joi.html

A few years later I updated my "rants" pretty regularly for a while:

http://www.rheingold.com/rants/9801.html

That's great Howard. Thanks. I remember that day in Tokyo when we were getting going on the web. The team at Eccosys were scouring the source of first the NCSA web site and later when Netscape came out, the Netscape web sites for the latest tags. I remember getting so excited by "blink" and the background texture tags. :-) I remember when a lot of people didn't get the difference between the web and gopher. (Although gopher was great!)

The web is such the perfect medium for you Howard. I look forward to when you find the perfect blog tool and see how this affects your style/output. For people who "ranted" even in straight html, the easy to use interface for entering and managing text might be almost an explosive event. ;-)

I don't know why HTML in comments is turned off, but if it is a security thing, my guess is that it has to do w/ XSS (cross-site scripting):

http://www.cgisecurity.com/articles/xss-faq.shtml

You folks make this Moveable Type thing sound easy. I don't have a blog but I am thinking about starting one. Should I forget learning HTML and go straight to moveable type? Is it super user friendly? I find HTML annoying, till you get the hang of it.

It is super user-friendly, but you should learn a little html. It will help a great deal. You just won't end up having to learn a bunch of useless html. The style sheet takes care of a lot of the design elements that you would have to learn. You can focus on the basic html for linking and structuring of your text. You should give it a try. You may need to have someone help you install the scripts on the server if you don't have access to your cgi directory tho...

Blogroots is a good source for ongoing news about blogging in general: http://www.blogroots.com/

Thanks guys! Thats a huge help.

Let us know when you get your blog going Liz.

I found this article doing a search on the benefits of blogging for bringing traffic to your site. Now I had now idea there was software that can do all that is described here. I just started my blog a few days ago, and can't believe how intricate and woven it is, and how something so simple can have so many aspects to discover and learn.

Thanks for the great information,

Laurie Meade
Reviews of Internet Marketing Related Products
href="http://you2cansellonline.com/blogger.htm">my blog here

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