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".