Blog bash

Back to blogging basics. What the hell is a blog? Well, it depends on whom the question is asked. For millions of ordinary people with access to a computer and an Internet connection, it is easy way to self publish their thoughts, concerns, and feelings or it is a means of talking to each other and sharing every thing the want to. To some blog still is a repository of useful links and sources from the Web and an approach to filtering information. Some others say it is a voice that is being heard in this din. Yet others say it as a memory aid. Blogs are an outlet on so many levels for so many people. Blogs are catharsis or merely vanity sites and a short cut to fame. Blogs are ego gratification for “wannabe writers.” For e-marketers blogs are quick tools for building their businesses and brands.

True that the Web has always been perceived as a medium where users are able to read, publish and exchange documents. But in the early days, self publishing online was costly and a bit technical. Things started changing after the arrival of community sites like Geocities and Angelfire, providing free online space for users to publish Web pages and in return increasing providers’ customers’ base and revenues. But blogs did not proliferate as the blogging process still needed some degree of technical knowledge and HTML skills. Blogs mushroomed only after the emergences of many free blog hoisting services and affordable software with easy interface. Result: anyone can blog. It is as simple as that.

Trend trajectory reached near its vertex in a short time when many providers offered free blogging service. Google acquired blogger.com, and AOL introduced similar facility to its subscribers. This was followed by Microsoft’s MSN spaces. ‘Blog’ was most used word on the Internet in the last decade. Year 2009 has been called ‘year of blogs’. With more people building and maintaining blogs, their importance is increasing. This is one reason that the phenomenon keeps getting more and more attention in social as well commercial circles.

Blogs (short for Web logs) that has become new destination on the Internet – a whole new cyber subculture – originally were typical link driven and personally owned sites at best interspersed with some observations or random personal thoughts. Many bloggers are following the same prototype. They dig up the interesting articles from obscure nooks and corners of the Web, highlight and present them in their blogs, some time adding more facts, alternative views, and meaningful insights, providing more depth.

Like Web, blogs are changing all the time in format, contents and intent. The blog hoisting services provide easy to use templates enabling the users to choose from. Geek types and those who know HTML may fiddle with the format and keep customizing the design where as lesser tech savvy keep up with what was provided by the service. Third party templates are also available that any inquisitive can download them for free.

Bloggers now disseminate information, interpret them for us as per their own perceptions, initiate debates, and participate in debates and more. Surf some and one can finds blogs of any kind and type: subject oriented, complimenting or criticizing perspectives, incisive observations, or deeply personal lascivious thoughts and very intimate details of personal life (some give these details staying behind the walls of anonymity while some do it overtly, even solicit comments, and call it freedom of choice). Early adopters of the blogging practice, who are in the middle of, and enjoying, an evolution of information technologies think that form of blogs will keep changing over period as tools improve and technology matures.

It is not that only blogs that are changing. The trend is also turning many passive Internet users into active surfers and writers. Blogging necessarily makes people to read, analyse and write. Bloggers surf and search more in order to locate unusual thing on the Web to post on their blogs. I read this at the mast head of one blog, “I’m still alive and relatively well. I have commentary, photos, and a dive log to prove it.”

Though blogging like the Internet itself is a global in nature and cannot be segregated or reviewed on the basis of geography yet while writing this I looked beneath the content of Pakistan blogspshere. Local blogs are a whole new world out there. As anywhere else, Pakistan blogs offer a view of what is thought in public and discussed in private. Bloggers here vent, flirt, and tell jokes. They also waffle, whine, or weasel. Some folk showcase their work with by lines of their own choosing or propagate a cause. Some users are producing surprisingly good qualities while some others are sloppy and direction less.

Pakistani bloggers seem to be very innovative and their blogs are oozing out with individualism and diversity. During my hunt, I have seen translation of a complete book by one writer posted on a blog; single entry. Blogging in not still economic hobbyhorse here but one can see some sponsored ads on some of the blogs already. Many use blogs as a safe storage place to keep their hard disks free. Photo blogs are being used as online family photo albums. Zahid Nawaz, a Pakistani IT professional who has migrated to Australia, had his CV pasted on his sole blog when he was looking for job. “Whatever I have in my personal computer is also on some of my private blogs (not assessable by others) and I can access them where ever I happen to be,” says an avid blogger Ghulam Shabbir. Though English is a predominant language at the Internet but look for it and you may find blogs in all languages including Urdu as well.

There are still some impediments, the most obvious being access to technologies, lack of purpose to reach out to the world and matters of ego and social background. What all one is willing to open to others? Email conversations with local bloggers revealed some more reservations: People are afraid to speak up. Mastery of language, technical, or compositional skills are another set of barriers for those who do not have them. Ghulam Shabir thinks, “Though these days blogging is as easy as signing in for email account and operating it yet those who are gifted with writing skills are often Web novice and those who are skilful Internet users have nothing much to say.”

There are almost as many critics as there are enthusiasts of blogging trend. But evidence is that Weblogs have already become more than just a passing whim. Critics, however, say that this ‘inconsequential chatter’ has given rise to plagiarism of a different king and the whole thing is nothing but recycling. There is hardly any thing original in blogs.

Some users just mark their presence; create a blog, post initial entry, submit it to one or two blog directories and forget about it. Frequent switchers leave one service and join another to build their blog afresh; more blogs are coming up every day. A few bloggers decide to dump their labour of love in cyber graveyard for good after some time due to variety of reason: blogging as an activity cease to have an importance in their lives, or they do not have enough to say in their blogs. Amir Niaz, a journalist and a ‘farmer’ blogger says, “I started blogging because I have an opinion and I wanted to have a place where I could voice my views about things around. Moreover, every one else was having one in my circle. Writing is very daunting job sometimes. The stress of daily updates became a distraction in my work and I left it after doing it for a year.”

Bloggers are a natural fit with each other and the fraternity is exponentially growing. Simple philosophy is this: “You mention me in your blog and I mention you in mine,” and it goes on and on. Bloggers are keen to see what others are doing at their blogs so they keep up with as many as they can, especially those who are like minded. Confession: Well, I am fond of seeing what others publish in their blogs that I do not know and who all have mentioned mine in the list of their favorites. I also try to see people who are behind blogs.

In general, bogs are interesting, thought provoking, and sometime utterly entertaining and fun. In fact, the ability for users to constantly update blogs makes them perfect forum for individuals to express themselves in so many creative ways. Blogging is an enriching experience on the World Wide Web for those who publish them as well as for those who lurk around and just read.

And with this rather long prelude now an answer to a very important question by Saj.  This is why I always involve everyone into blogging.  This is why I involved you. Thanks for Joining the blog bash.

Related: How I blog and you too can, Personal Experiences about Making Money from Blogging

This article appeared in the daily Nation

This entry was posted in Fine Art of Blogging, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Blog bash

  1. 'Ka says:

    High says, “Blogging requires passion and authority.” Only thoose who have them can blog for so long sir. Love this post.

  2. Sajini says:

    A very well written article and was very informative . Blogging is still new to my part of the world and most still don’t know , but once i got my self into blogging it became my own place to pour my thoughts and views and some time my own place to write what ever crossed my mind .

    • Thanks. Having read your thoughts and the way you write, I will say you are a writer. And I always am of the oinion that every writer is a blogger (though not all bloggers are writers). I can see your blogging going places one day (not very far). Fact is that you write what is in the heart of all of us (or in the heasts of most of us). We relate to what you write. BTW, the discussion you generate there are also very educative.

      Happy blogging Ms Sajini.

  3. Anonyomous says:

    Who is Saj ???

  4. Anonyomous says:

    Yes, I just started blogging and I’m loving it . Thank you for making me part of your love sir.

  5. I am new. I learn a lot from this blog. Happy blogging sir.

  6. Brock says:

    What a bash Shi. I am in.

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