Still in 2009, many people do not know about blogs and I have been often asked questions in email, IM and conversations, What is a blog? Who can blog? How can I blog? etc.
There are many definitions that I can give out but these can possibly dry your mind and make you itch your head 😛
Confused yet? Don’t be – its really quite simple. To put it as simply as possible – a blog is a type of website that is usually arranged in chronological order from the most recent ‘post’ (or entry) at the top of the main page to the older entries towards the bottom.
Now lets discuss some misconceptions about blogs.
Blogs Aren’t Necessarily Personal
The main misconception regarding the definition of blogs comes from people that associate blogs with their content. More specifically from people that associate blogs with the content from one particular type of blog: personal blogs.
In other words, those people think that blogs are online diaries where people share their opinions, ramblings and personal events.
That is just one of the things that you could do with a blog.
Today blogs are being used for all sorts of purposes. You have companies that use blogs to communicate and interact with customers and other stake holders. Newspapers that incorporated blogs to their main website to offer a new channel for their writers. Individuals that created a blog to share with the world their expertise on specific topics. And so on.
Separate The Content
If you separate the content from the website, it becomes much easier to work with the definitions.
Consider a person that wants to publish a Questions & Answers column online. She could use several types of websites for that purpose.
She could create an online forum, for example, where each thread would be an answer to a specific question. She could create a static HTML website and publish all the questions and answers on a single page. She could create a wiki where users would be able to edit the questions and answers directly. Finally, she could also create a blog where each post would contain a question and its answer.
As you can see, the content is not attached to the website. The picture below illustrates that (note that only four types of websites were used, but there are many more).
So What Is A Blog?
A blog is basically a type of website, like a forum or a social bookmarking site. As such it is defined by the technical aspects and features around it, and not by the content published inside it.
The features that make blogs different from other websites are:
- content is published in a chronological fashion
- content is updated regularly
- readers have the possibility to leave comments
- other blog authors can interact via trackbacks and pingbacks
- content is syndicated via RSS feeds
Keep in mind that it is the bundle of those features that should define a blog. An online forum could also offer an RSS feed for example, but that would not make it a blog.
Are you still confused? Would you like more information? Below are a few helpful articles on the topic – there are many more on the web – just do a search on your favourite search engine. Otherwise shoot me an email using my ‘contact’ button with your question and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
- Rebecca Blood has written a helpful history of blogging for those who are interested in learning more about the blogging evolution over the past few years.
- Harvard Law has a helpful article titled What makes a Weblog a Weblog
- Trudy Schuett writes a good article title What is a blog and why do we need one?
- WordPress: Introduction to Blogging