Weblogs have been growing in popularity and importance over the past year. The recent decision by Google to buy Pyra Labs is a manifestation of this, along with Tripods decision to offer blogging. Tools like Radios Userland and MovableType have made it easy to publish weblogs. Also, the increasing variety of content on the web and the desire for fresh insights has created a large group of people (in the tens of thousands) who link and analyse whats out there.
Weblogs are diaries, or personal journals. They are organized chronologically, and are typically written by a single individual. They are laced with links, analysis and commentaries. They thrive on the world of content outside both from news sites and from other bloggers. Blogs reflect the personality and personality of their author.
The popularity of blogs in recent times has been driven by tools that have made publishing easier for the individual. Blogspot, Radio or MovableType let you get started with a blog in a matter of minutes. After that, its only a question of the time investment that one is willing to make in blogging.
Blogging is also about sharing ones knowledge, ones ideas. It is about creating a flow, a conversation. On a personal basis, as a blogger for the past 10 months, I have seen first-hand this flow being created. Many of my new ideas and reading is driven by comments made by bloggers, as compared to a year ago, when the various news sites and magazines were pretty much the only sources. Now, one can get to the experts in the form of bloggers get a piece of their brains and thinking sitting tens of thousands of miles away.
As new bloggers join the fray, I expect that there will be two types of bloggers: one who blog for their immediate neighbourhood (friends, family, co-workers), and another which will become more broadcast-oriented, an alternative to some of the media sites. The second category of bloggers will be the hubs for the formation of micro-communities around what the blogger writes about. Being on the blogroll of these blogs will be critical for a new blogger to gain traffic and flow, and later, acceptance.
Blogs will also extend to enterprises and communities. Within the enterprise, knowledge blogs will help extract and institutionalize tacit knowledge that today lies hidden within people. Blogs could also be formed around communities of practice. Two forays of interest here are Slashdot, the community weblog for techies, which has been around for many years and AlwaysOn, a recentl started blog for business geeks.
The new hot theme is Nano-publishing, which according to Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News, is an emerging brand of Internet-based journalism that is helping shape the future of news. Sites like Corante, Gawker and Gimzodo are commercial ventures built around microcontent. Corante has a collection vertical weblogs across a diverse set of areas. Gawker is about Manhattan, and Gizmodo is about electronic gadgets.
Tomorrow: Blogs (continued)