Here is an excerpt:
Weblogs are best described as a personal publishing system with syndication. They are Web sites on which one individual—or several—publishes personal opinions, commentary, thoughts, and essays with links to interesting and supplemental information. Weblog editors often present their perspectives on topics currently in the news or journals or on books that they are reading. An editor with expertise in a particular area might evaluate the accuracy of information presented in a highlighted article, provide additional facts that he or she believes are pertinent, or simply add an opinion or differing viewpoint. Often interwoven throughout the weblog entry are links both to little-known corners of the Web and to relevant news articles. The weblog not only provides interesting reading but, by means of these links, allows readers to discover new facts, alternative views, or supplemental data that greatly enhance the reading experience.
A feature called a trackback link allows individuals who participate in a discussion to be notified when someone has added a comment. Many weblogs link to or feature comments about other weblogs, which builds a community discussion.
A brief history of weblogs
In 1998 only a handful of sites were called weblogs, and they consisted mostly of collections of interesting links to new Web sites. By early 1999 perhaps two dozen weblogs existed, which began to offer commentaries and opinions and to link to all the other weblogs. In this way a community began. By mid-1999 the first free build-your-own-weblog tool was launched, and suddenly there were hundreds of weblogs.
As software was created to make the process of posting information on the Web easier, hundreds turned into thousands. Weblogs have been described as providing a valuable filtering function. From the enormous volume of Web pages produced every day, the weblog editors choose some of the most interesting issues to present.
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The added element is what the editor brings to these issues—a perspective that is often different from those of traditional media sources, links to information to enhance understanding, and an opportunity for open discourse. Important to "bloggers," as weblog editors are called, is the idea that traditional media impose a passive attitude—we consume media but we cannot participate. In the weblog world, participation is encouraged, as is extending the traditional boundaries of information.
Bloggers and weblog popularity
Currently there are more than 1.5 million weblogs worldwide. Although virtually every profession and topic area has spawned weblogs, many weblogs are focused on journalism, politics, and information technology. Weblogs in medicine, psychiatry, and neuroscience represent a small but growing group.
All the major presidential candidates have weblogs and use them to encourage voters. The President of the United States has a weblog, and probably by the end of this year all members of the U.S. Congress will have them. A weblog is now regarded as a must for communication, and this style of communication is becoming as powerful as traditional media without the constraints of time and money. Google, a popular Web search engine, recently bought one of the companies that make weblog software and has conducted a great deal of research on the process and popularity of weblogs. Many of the more popular weblogs are indexed by Google. There are also specialized weblog search sites that track the interconnecting links to and from any weblog. Technorati (www.technorati.com) is one site that provides this service.
During the 2003 war in Iraq, many journalists who worked for traditional media started weblogs. They described the horrors of war, presented viewpoints on military successes, related battlefield stories, and disclosed their own feelings in a way that would never be part of the evening news.