The Wall Street Journal ran a short retrospective on blogging over the weekend, "Happy Blogiversary." It dates the roots of the word "weblog" to early postings in 1997 by this guy. One of the first real weblogs was Scripting News, authored by tech wizard Dave Winer. He also founded Userland Software in 1988, which went on to release one of the first blogging platforms, Radio Userland. I launched this weblog in 2003 as a Radio blog (which site, for no apparent reason, is still up and running).
I learned a new word reading the article: ghostblogging. That's right, blogs of the rich and famous aren't actually written by the rich and famous. They subcontract. Sounds like an interesting career choice for a tech-savvy English major: ghostblogger for hire. Or maybe: Will blog for food. But at least you can work from home. And think of the networking opportunities.
The article includes comments by twelve notables about blogging. Tom Wolfe thinks "the universe of blogs is a universe of rumors" and that "only a primitive would believe a word of Wikipedia" (which he says works much like a blog). Blogs just don't have the right stuff. Another commenter relates the opinion of a magazine editor: "I don't know why anyone reads blogs," said the editor. "It's like listening to the crazy guy rant on the subway." I'm trying to think of the last time I read a news magazine ...
Elizabeth Spiers, in her four paragraphs, lists the following as characteristics that define successful blogs, based on her wide experience as a full-time blog executive (my term, but it seems appropriate for the WSJ). Spiers also says that "most blogs are personal diaries and don't fit these criteria," but they still seem like useful suggestions for any blog.
- be topically focused.
- post regularly and frequently.
- post content that is original or difficult to find.
- write well.
- engage your readers by soliciting feedback and responding to it.