To blog or not to blog?

Sept. 1, 2004
Diaries and journals have been around for centuries. People used them to keep track of their daily activities and thoughts. In the majority of cases, they were kept private; but occasionally they were shared with others.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FAGD, FICD

Diaries and journals have been around for centuries. People used them to keep track of their daily activities and thoughts. In the majority of cases, they were kept private; but occasionally they were shared with others.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the World Wide Web. We are living in the Information Age. With a click of your mouse, you can find and share information with people around the world. Why not have your diary or journal online? A Web journal — sometimes called a blog — is an online version of that old hand-written diary.

Jorn Barger coined the phrase, Web log, in 1997 to describe a site that combines links, commentaries, and personal thoughts and essays from the perspective of the Web log author. In 1998, only a handful of sites now identified as Web logs existed.

Steady growth of these types of sites continued until July 1999, when Pitas — the first free, build-your-own-Web log tool — was launched. By the end of this year, an estimated 10 million Web logs, or blogs for short, will be published.

Web logs are journals written by anyone with a desire to share ideas. Some people use them to keep in contact with their families and friends. Others use them to express their thoughts on current events, the arts, or just about anything else. Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain their own blog. Postings are arranged in chronological order, with the most recent additions featured prominently.

Now that you have learned a new Internet term, it is time to explore to see what's out there in cyberspace. The following is a listing of sites where you can tour many of the blogs that are up and running:

www.globeofblogs.com
www.bestoftheblogs.com
www.blogwise.com
www.forbes.com/2003/04/14/bestblogslander.html

Most of these blogs store your "journal" on their servers. Radiouserland is a software that allows you to create a blog and upload the information. It will ensure that you have a copy of your journal at all times. You can download it for a fee at www.radiouserland.com or through some of the blog-hosting sites, such as www.salon.com/blogs.

Are you interested in getting your own blog up and running? Go to these sites for help in starting up your Web log:

www.pitas.com
www.blogger.com
www.livejournal.com
www.typepad.com
www.xanga.com

Here are some sample blogs from some interesting people:

Mark Cuban's Blog: www.blogmaverick.com
Rance's Blog (some unnamed Hollywood insider): captainhoof.tripod.com/blog
Dave Barry: davebarry.blogspot.com

Blogging now is being viewed as a public form of journalism, giving anyone who wishes an opportunity to comment on the events of the day. Amazingly, several journalism schools at major universities have added courses in blogging to their curriculum. Educators in elementary, middle, and high schools are using blogging tools for student logs, a place for students and parents to collaborate, and as classroom-management tools, such as a place for posting assignments and more.

It will be interesting to see how blogging evolves over the next few years. Will it be the next email ... or disappear as a passing fad?

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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