Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blogs, blogs, blogs...

Why do I blog?
Why do I read blogs?

These are some of the questions I had to answer when I was trying to introduce a friend of mine to blogs (believe me, there are still a few who are yet to be exposed to blogging). I had to think a bit before answering these questions.

Why do I blog?

First of all, let's define a "blog". Blog stands for 'weB LOG'. An online dairy of sorts. As per Webster, it is "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer". Wikipedia says "a blog is a website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order".

Blogs have come a long way from the initial online personal diary. I got introduced to the 'online diary' concept by Philip Greenspun of photo.net and Joel Spolsky of JoelOnSoftware. Philip is a great photographer and my interest in photography drew me in. His Travels with Samantha series captivated me as well as his other entries on technology. Joel wrote about the business of software, and related technology topics. Of course, there are many more who had online public journals even before 'blogging' was officially recognized. I was fascinated by their thought process as well as writing style. I always wanted to, one day, have my own blog and publish it.

With the advent of technology and tools/services that made blogging so easy, I got my chance to publish my own content.

I started blogging for the primary reason of sharing my thoughts with like-minded people. It also served as a daily/weekly/monthly assignment which helped improve my writing ability. It has now morphed into a showcase for some of my art. It has helped me connect with like-minded people from all over the world.

Blogs come in all shapes and sizes. There are blogs that share ideas, thoughts, commentaries, opinions, etc. Blogs that give a face to a (faceless) company. Blogs that just plain try to get hits (see Blog Pimping) in order to make money. Blogs that report the latest news, be it politics, happenings, technology or gadgets. Due partly to citizen journalism, blogs are becoming a source of news (and rumors?).

People blog for a variety of reasons, some of which are:
- Just because you can do it (there is nobody editing your content before publishing)
- To spread useful (or useless) information
- To share ideas
- To teach
- To make money
- To connect with like-minded people
- To get exposure (I blog, therefore I am)
- To expose one's mind (via sharing thoughts and commentary)

Why do I read blogs?

The answer to the previous question partly answered this question too. I read blogs to get information, learn new things, to connect with people, to get into another person's head. Blogs have been a great source of information as long as you know what to read. Where would a school kid sitting in a remote corner of Srirangapatna get a chance to get into the head of a CEO on an almost daily basis? Thanks to blogging, this has become a reality.

There are millions of blogs and there are only a handful that have any useful content. In today's world of Ads where every pageview counts, there is tremendous competition to get new content into blogs and keep it interesting. It is a lot easier to start a blog than to maintain one.

Once you start following a few blogs, you will discover that there are a lot more that are interesting, and that some of them are very active. How do you know if a blog content has changed? Do you visit them daily to check for changes? That is almost impossible. Here comes RSS and the feed readers. Feed readers help you subscribe to blogs and get notified whenever the content of a particular blog changes.

The fact that you are reading this blog means that you are familiar with blogging. Go ahead, and explore the wonderful world of blogs.