CS Monitor -from the November 23, 2005 edition
Anyone can write a blog, but will anyone read it?
By Tom Regan
It's easy to tell when an idea or a thing has made the jump from fad to
standard - it becomes a verb. For instance, a fax, short for facsimile,
became faxing. The same thing has happened to blogging, a word now heard so
often that it seems as though everyone is doing it - that everyone has a
blog and is blogging.
In the past few years, blogging has become, next to e-mail and instant
messaging, a common way for people to spend countless hours on the Internet.
And why not? A Web log (which quickly became "weblog" and finally "blog") is
an online continuation of the desktop publishing phenomena that started in
the 1980s and changed forever the hierarchy of the information flow.
(Suddenly, you didn't need a printing press to say what was on your mind.)
Truth be told, blogging has been around for centuries - or at least the idea
behind it has, in the form of diaries and journals. You can see that in this
definition of a weblog found in the online Wikipedia: "A weblog or blog is a
web-based publication of periodic articles (posts), usually presented in
reverse chronological order. It is an online journal with one or many
Only now you don't keep that "journal" for yourself, you keep it for your
Blogs can address any topic: politics, gardening, your high school reunion,
how to wax your legs - you name it. Technorati (www.technorati.com), a
website that allows people to list their blogs for other people to read,
says it has 21.5 million blogs in its searchable database. And that's only a
collection of blogs by people who have taken the time to register with the
The truly daunting task, then, is not writing a blog. It's getting anyone to
But first, how do you build a blog? You have several ways to begin. Google
offers Blogger (www.blogger.com/start), a free service that lets anyone set
up a blog in "three easy steps."
Same with services like Blogster (www.blogster.com). AOL users can create
free blogs as well.
Those seeking something a bit more robust can use a fee-based service like
Typepad (www.typepad.com), which for $5 or more a month offers blogging
extras, such as allowing you to update it from anywhere using your mobile
phone. Another feature called QuickPost sits on your desktop. Entries typed
into the QuickPost window will automatically appear in your blog without
your having to go to the Typepad website.
Once you get a blog started, here are a few tips to keep it going and create
Write every day. A blog works best when it has a steady stream of content.
If you only blog once a week, or even once a month, chances are your
potential audience will be following someone making more regular postings.
Think about your topic and audience. If you create a blog about your high
school reunion (not that there's anything wrong with that), you can pretty
much count on the fact that this will limit the size of your readership to
your former classmates.
Keep entries short. While not always necessary (sometimes a body just has
to say what's on his or her mind), shorter posts are usually easier to
create and easier for readers to follow.
Spelling and grammar count. Some in the blogging community believe that
you should just let it all flow, typos and all. It's not true. Readers hate
poor English and sloppy writing. And they will not hesitate to tell you so.
Use lots of links. Hypertext is the raison d'κtre of the Internet. Link to
stories, other blogs, interesting websites. They will often return the
favor, and visiting your site becomes a more enjoyable experience for your
List your blog on weblog websites like Technorati, Blogdex
(www.blogdex.net), or DayPop (www.daypop.com).
These are only a few suggestions. Google's Blogger site (URL above) offers a
great guide to blogging. (The advice is angled toward using Google's
service, but many of the tips are universal.)
Blogging works best when you're passionate about it. The key is just to do
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty
than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson