Brief history of Blogs

Document Sample
Brief history of Blogs Powered By Docstoc
					Brief history of Blogs
In late January of 2001, in the depths of the dot-com crash, a San Francisco
startup called Pyra Labs ran out of money. Its staff departed. The co-founder
of the company, a young Nebraskan named Evan Williams, decided to make a
go of it alone. He scraped together $40,000 in new funding and moved Pyra's
servers into his apartment. This permitted the company's 100,000 registered
customers (and counting) to keep using Pyra's service, Blogger, to publish
their online journals, or blogs.

A year later, Blogger had 700,000 subscribers. Whether sharing cookie recipes
or commenting on weapons reports from Iraq, those writers were constructing
a significant new form of grassroots media. Blogging turned traditional
publishing on its head, allowing anyone with a computer and modem (or even
a smartphone) to gain a global voice for free. By 2003, Williams was able to
sell his business to Google for a lucrative pile of pre-IPO stock. Three years
later he and his partners launched yet another tool for global publishing, the
micro-blogging phenomenon, Twitter.

Williams' story is just one thread in the narrative of Say Everything, Scott
Rosenberg's account of the blogging revolution. Rosenberg, co-founder of the
online magazine, describes a remarkable chapter in the history of
communication. At this point it's hard for some to remember that even in the
late '90s most people regarded Web pages as things to read, not places to post
and publish. It's an important story, one that leads not only to YouTube,
Facebook, and Wikipedia but also to the transformation of corporate and
government communications. Rosenberg writes gracefully and appears to have
researched thoroughly. His book may be a bit heavy in detail, historical and
technical, for a general interest audience. But many bloggers are sure to relish
the history of the drama they've stepped into. I certainly learned a lot.

Rosenberg introduces readers to pioneers such as Justin Hall. A Swarthmore
College dropout who was itching to share, Hall in 1993 began publishing
details of his life and linking to things he was finding online, including bootleg
music and porn. He established a cult readership. It quickly became apparent
that if Justin Hall could publish his stuff, everyone else could, too.

Could blogging be a business? Entrepreneurs such as Nick Denton, a former
Financial Times journalist, would lead the way. Denton hired journalists to
post on sites such as Gawker, for gossip aficionados, and tech gadget blog
Gizmodo. He established an early model: lots of attitude, frequent posting,
strong focus—and entry-level pay. Then came rival Jason Calacanis, who
launched the blog network Weblogs (TWX), luring away some of Denton's
stars with equity stakes. Enter Arianna Huffington in 2005 with another
model: persuading bloggers to labor for free—while boosting their brands—as
contributors to her popular Huffington Post.
The blog wars make for fun reading. The impact for society comes from the
stream of eyewitness reports and opinions flowing onto Web pages. As
customers and employees blog, corporations lose any hope of controlling news
as they used to and push instead to influence it. And as we see in the streets of
Iran, angry voices carry around the world and construct their own compelling
narrative, even when dictators censor the press.

It's easy to focus on stupid or trivial blogs and dismiss the lot of them. But as
more people add their voices every day, Rosenberg writes, "saying that 'ninety
percent of blogs are crap' begins to feel misanthropically close to saying
'ninety percent of people are crap.' "

He quotes an American Army major, Andrew Olmsted, who left an entry to be
posted after his death, which came near Sadiya, Iraq, in January 2008. "The
ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can
read and respond to them has been marvelous," Olmsted wrote, "even if most
people haven't agreed with them." Thanks to the technology and media
Rosenberg describes, all of us have that same marvelous power to reach out to
the rest of the world. It's astonishing how quickly the change has come.

Shared By:
harish V harish V http://
About cool