The previous chapter covered a wide range of online-communication forums. This chapter focuses on another extremely-popular online forum, namely, the blog. A blog is essentially an online listing and description of related items, and for some individuals it the equivalent to maintaining an online personal journal or activity log. From blogging’s origins in late 1997 until now, there has been a tremendous explosion in the number of blogs. The discussion begins here by presenting a history of blogs. The chapter presents a classification scheme for blogs and a number of examples of interesting blogs. It next provides a review of popular blogging software. This software has made setting up, adding content to, and maintaining a blog very simple; this software has help to fuel the popularity of blogging. Tim O’Reilly and others proposed a Blogging Code of Conduct, and the chapter includes a section where the author discusses that code. This material is followed by cautions about blogging. The chapter also reviews a number of IT-related blogs, and wraps up with conclusions and references.
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Interesting Facts About Blogs

This section describes blogs and their history. The word “blog” derives from the words “web” and “log.” Jorn Barger is credited with coming up with the term “weblog” (Barger, 2011), and Peter Merholz is credited with shortening it to “blog” (Blog, 2011). A blog is an online grouping of related items that are posted in chronological order and regularly updated. Most blogs are maintained by individuals, but some are maintained by a group of people or by a business. The items in a blog are typically listed in reverse-chronological order, that is, the most-recent items appear at the top of the blog. These items are called blog entries or entries, for short. An early discussion of blogs is contained in (Greenlaw & Hepp, 2001). A sample blog entry is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

A sample blog entry from a class on cyber security at the United States Naval Academy

There are several things to notice about the blog entry shown in Figure 1. The first point to notice is that the blog entry is text only. The information is easy to read but is not particularly visually appealing. The heading material is centered, and the learning objectives are organized in a bulleted list. Thus the information on the blog is easy to read. The name of the blog in this case is “USNA Cyber-Security Class,” and it is shown at the top of the entry. The author of the blog is provided: “Raymond Greenlaw,” and this information is followed by the date of the post. In some blogs other users are able to add comments and in this case the “3” in parenthesis means that there have been three comments added to this post. These posts form a thread. A thread is simply a collection of related posts. A reader of the blog can read the threads. Most blogs are public, and the people who author blogs, bloggers, desire the widest-possible audience or at least a large audience. Other blogs are private, as in the case of this one. The audience for this one is captive in the sense that the blog accompanies a specific class at the United States Naval Academy. Students are required to read the material on the blog. The purpose of this blog is to convey information, not to attract a larger readership. Thus no real effort is made to dress the blog up with nice graphics or multimedia. The effort instead has been devoted entirely to the content.

Many blogs make use of multimedia and include images, hyperlinks, videos, sound bites, and so on. Figure 2 shows a sample entry from the engadget blog; the entry makes use of multimedia. The engadget blog itself uses lots of color, images, and hyperlinks. Note that in the blog entry shown in Figure 2 the name of the author of the entry and date of the posting are displayed. Each blog post on the page has a distinctive eye-catching graphic. Each blog post uses it own style and colors. These styles make it easy to distinguish the various entries. Note that at the bottom of the entry on Eee Pad Transformer source code, one can see the number of tweets (441) and the number of posts (88) made about the entry. Usually, high values for these items mean that readers found the item ‘interesting’ and therefore took the time to comment on it. Of course, in some cases people may be writing to correct an error or to pick a bone.

Figure 2.

A sample blog entry from the engadget blog demonstrating the use of multimedia in a blog post. (© 2011AOL, Inc. Used with permission)

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