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The Nerd Knows: Blogging 101

by The Nerd

Blogs (short for Web logs) are frequently updated Web pages or online journals within which authors post comments about news items, interesting Web sites, their pithy thoughts, and just about anything else. Blogs are part of the ongoing vanity publishing revolution that allows individuals to express themselves to the world. Not that the world cares, but it does allow millions of wannabee writers to share their typos and grammatical atrocities.

The first blog— though it wasn't called a blog at the time—was created by the inventor of the Web (no, not Al Gore), Tim Berners- Lee. In 1992, he began posting messages about the status of his newfangled gizmo called the World Wide Web, which included links to other online resources—an unprecedented development at the time.

In 1999, the first hosting services appeared that allowed non-programmer types to create their own online journals and share their thoughts by adding data without having to understand any of the underlying technologies. Since those early days, tens of millions of Web logs have been created. Over time, the term "Web log" evolved into "blog," and the pages themselves evolved from notes and links to other sites, to more editorial-based platforms.

Blog basics

Blogs share a common format, which allows readers to quickly skim a blog looking for information of interest. Posts are generally presented in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post appearing first. Each post is traditionally given a title or headline, and key words and names are often highlighted in bold to assist blogging speed-readers.

Typically, the post author's nickname appears, though author identification can usually be found on an About page. It varies by blog, but readers are usually invited to leave their own comments and reactions to the author's post in a Comments section.

Why read a blog?

Many blogs s e rve a s specialized newsletters. These can assist individuals in their research of specific topics and can provide news and information one might not otherwise encounter. Blogs also provide an independent take on current news for those who prefer something other than mainstream media news.

Readers must evaluate the credibility of a blog, just as they would evaluate information found on any other Web site. While most blogs are legitimate, some are hoaxes or fronts for scams. In addition, some marketing firms use blogs for commercial purposes, operating under the guise of a friendly personal blog, so beware of sales pitches masquerading as editorial content.

Part of the fun of blogging is to read a bit, click to another blog, read a bit more, then click again. If you are thinking that this sounds like it can consume a great deal of time, you are correct. Be sure to establish some time parameters for yourself.

Why write a blog?

The primary reason most bloggers blog is to express themselves. They feel they have something to say and blogging, for better or worse, provides an outlet for that expression. You are the editor of your blog, so you decide what to write. If others find it interesting, they may become loyal readers. If they don't, you will be writing for yourself.

Create your blog

It is easy to create a blog using any of a number of popular, free blog hosts such as Blogger.com, Pitas.com, Xanga.com or LiveJournal.com. You provide the content; your blog host will do the rest. Have fun blogging!

Visit SeniorConnectionnewspaper.com/blogs to read Senior Connection's blogs.

"The Nerd" (aka "Mr. Modem") is an author, syndicated columnist, radio host, publisher, and proud father of four kitties. For information about his weekly computer-help newsletter, visit www.MrModem.com.


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