A year ago, I would get nearly all my news and analysis from the mainstream publications. Now, a significant portion of my time is spent reading the collections of “bloggers” that I visit regularly. These are experts whom I respect and whose views are frank and to-the-point. They help shape the way I think. Mainstream publications are definitely still around and they are not going away. But a change is in the air. Reading blogs is like picking the best brains. Its may not be the best writing but it certainly is some of the best thinking.
The Web as we know is undergoing a change. For long, it has been a broadcast medium. Companies and publishers put up websites and readers came to check out the content. The read-only web is becoming two-way, a Writing Web. This transformation is being led by amateurs and is bringing forth a richness which has been missing. This revolution goes by the unlikely name of Blogging.
Blogs (also called Weblogs) are personal journals by people like you and me, updated frequently (maybe even multiple times a day) and relying heavily on a mix of links and commentaries. There is a rawness to this writing which is missing from the mainstream publications. The naturalness and candidness of blogs promise to change the way we get our information and insights, and how we form our opinions.
Writes Jeremy Wagstaff in the Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2002):
Weblogs are Web pages built by real people, blessedly free of corporate-speak and ubiquitous images of tall-shiny skyscrapers, smiley people gazing intelligently into laptops, or besuited, smarmy business-types shaking hands. Weblogs — logs of the Web, see? — are the where the real action is. They are the creation of individuals, usually musings on national, local or personal events, links to interesting articles, a few lines of comment or discussion collected and presented by one person. While not sounding like much, Weblogs are a milestone in the short history of the Internet.
Part of a blog’s charm is its simplicity. In most cases it’s plain text simply but elegantly laid out. Pages are quick to load. The content is concise and measured. The more you read a blog you like and the closer you feel to its author, the more you will trust their choice and follow the links offered. While for some people the appeal of the more personal blogs is in connecting with others through a kind of virtual diary of one’s thoughts and observations, for others the more straightforward digest of recent news — and the blogger’s interpretation and comment on that news — serves a more prosaic purpose. Above all, it’s free.