The Nature of Blogs

Posted By BrokenClaw on October 2, 2007

The Blogosphere

The immediate nature of blogs, and the way that they are easily connected, has led to the concept known as the blogosphere. It is the term used to describe the collective writing among the Internet’s millions of blogs, especially when a significant number of them are discussing and dissecting a particular current event. It is used in phrases such as, the blogosphere went crazy, or according to the blogosphere, or the blogosphere isn’t buying it.

The power of blogs and the blogosphere came to the forefront in 2004. In September of that year, the TV news show, 60 Minutes, broadcast a Dan Rather story which disparaged President Bush’s National Guard service, based on some exclusive documents obtained by CBS. Facsimiles of the documents were posted online by CBS. However, upon further scrutiny, it was discovered that they were forgeries, based on the fact that documents of that era would have been typed on a manual or electric typewriter, but the documents’ font was obviously computer-generated. This revelation was posted on a blog, carried by other blogs, and eventually led to CBS and Dan Rather admitting their mistake. The episode is probably the main reason for Rather’s retirement shortly thereafter.

In times past, the documents would have been merely shown on screen, and no one else would have had the chance to study them. Even if someone had discovered the forgery, it’s doubtful that the repercussions would have been as swift without the blogosphere.

News Blogs

Blogs can quickly become recursive, meaning that there are blogs about blogs. It’s possible to create a blog simply by linking to articles on other blogs. The value in these types of blogs is dependent on the editorial skill of the blogger in picking which blogs to follow and which articles to link. Readers of news blogs generally settle on a few of their favorites, and then they subscribe to the blogs by RSS, which means that new entries are automatically sent to their RSS reader so they don’t have to go the individual blog websites.

A news site, like CNN.com, has original content from its own reporters and wire news services. A news aggregator, like Yahoo News, has links and summaries from other news sites. A news blog generally uses news links, but then adds commentary or opposing points of view.

Special Interests

Besides news, blogs can also have other specific topics or genre, such as hobbies, travel, art, music, fashion, childcare, etc. School gossip blogs can be a real dilemma for school administrators and have also been the source of hurtful behavior among students.

Personal Blogs

Because free blogs are simple to set up, they are also often abandoned without a second thought. You can put most any name in front of blogspot.com and find a blog, for example, sally.blogspot.com.

I used that arbitray example once in conversation, and when I checked it, sure enough, there was a blog there. It was started in 2001 by someone named Sally. She never made a single post after the setup. Nobody cares about an abandoned blog, but it means that none of the other Sallys of the world can have that URL at sally.blogspot.com.

Worthless Blogs

Since blogs can easily import content from other blogs, they have become another tool of spammers. The spammer sets up a blog which consists entirely of content plagiarized from legitimate sites along with their own spam links. Then when the legitimate content gets indexed by search engines, or linked as a comment on the original site, it leads users to the spam blog.

I am constantly getting automatic notifications from my blog that it has been quoted and linked on another blog. When I check it out, I find a spam blog, probably created and maintained entirely by the work of a botnet.

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