According to Pew Internet, a research company, a Web log is created every 5.8 seconds. Technorati, a blog search engine, tracks about six million blogs daily. Merriam-Webster named “blog” the word of 2004.
When I first started complaining about homework on a tiny Web site on diaryland.com way back in 2000, I had no idea that I was becoming a part of an exclusive group of people known as “bloggers.”
Diaryland.com, livejournal.com, blogspot.com, xanga.com, and blogger.com are only a handful of the Web log hosts where practically anyone can have free blogs.
These Web sites also offer the possibility to upload audio clips, video clips and pictures. Some blogs are so popular they receive over a million hits daily.
Another survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that blog readership has shot up by 58 percent in the last year. According to BBC News, it was in 2004 that debate about the role of blogs and their impact on society really got under way.
Last year, several bloggers were sent invitations to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. BBC reports these bloggers dined with reporters from high profile publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post. It was a turning point in the history of blogs; mainstream media outlets realized the influence of bloggers.
Take for example, Salam Pax, the famous blogger from Baghdad. He now regularly writes for UK’s Guardian Unlimited. Pax was not a trained journalist and yet he is now a household name because of his timely blog.
During the South Asian tsunami crisis, the first channels of information to spring up almost immediately were blogs, such as tsunamihelp.blogspot.com. Reports were first broken by Web loggers who were there and witnessed the breaking news.
In fact, some of the most striking accounts of the tsunami have been provided by bloggers, including videos. According to BBC news reports, “Siva Vidhyanathan, a professor of culture and communication at New York University, says that much of the historical record of the tsunami is based on these videos.”
On a more micro level, take the case of Steve Stanzak, an NYU Student, who lived in the NYU library and shared his experience through his blog at homelessatnyu.com.
His blog became so popular that when university officials found it, they decided to offer him housing. All in all, blogging cannot be ignored and the world is taking notice of the new technology slowly sweeping the globe.
MSN and Google, the world’s premier search portals, now have hundreds of internal bloggers to focus on company’s image and technologies. David Krane, Google’s head of corporate public relations, maintains a blog called Kraneland. Blogging is seeping into corporate America; marketing and PR professionals are also encouraging the use of blogs to compliment company image.
Last year I attended a panel about blogging at Columbia University where I met Jen Chung, the editor of gothamist.com.
Her daytime job is at an advertising agency and she edits and writes at gothamist.com in her spare time. Gothamist averages more than 35,000 visitors everyday and it was included in ABC’s World News Tonight’s, “People of the year 2004” piece about bloggers.
I questioned myself and wondered whether I should quit toiling endlessly as a struggling journalist and start a first-class blog. Considering the seeping influence blogs are creating, it might just be a smart idea.
Jinal Shah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.