How Blogging Has Changed Over the Years
The world of blogging has come a long way since moderated newsgroups gave birth to the famed (but no longer operational) mod.ber forum that broke from the message-board mold by posting summaries of other discussions from around Usenet. The term blog (short for Weblog) was still over a decade from being coined, but the concept of regularly updated content in an online journal had been born.
Now that the world of blogging has exploded into the popular and ultra-specialized phases of development, the concept of blogs as we know it is almost becoming passé in the minds of some in the online community. So here is a look back at where the blog has been and where it could be going.
Even before the Internet evolved, forums such as mod.ber and rec.humor.funny made the mid to late 1980s the primordial ooze of online journalism. The main purpose was to summarize or to aggregate content strewn out chaotically across various groups into an organized, centralized location. There are plenty of blogs that maintain this same concept: vast content ordered for a widespread community.
The mid ‘90s marked the advent of the online diaries, which sprang from a more self-focused mindset than the discussion group communities. That isn’t to say that the sense of community was abandoned—far from it. But each online journal was meant to chronicle the daily activities, thoughts, creations, or other content of the individual. Message boards gave way to comment sections.
Webrings brought online journalists together into communities, and with time technology to support the processes of blogging, linking, and connecting evolved to support the steadily growing phenomenon that included everything from people’s personal lives to their political views.
From Journals to Journalism
After the turn of the century, blogs began to gain traction as serious forces in opinion formation and news reporting. Rather than relying on talk radio or 24-hour news television to influence opinions and interpret news, bloggers took to their own forums and networks to discuss developments as they happened and to react to scandals and divisive developments with immediate and intense response. In fact, in 2002 it was the rapid response of blogs to Trent Lott’s controversial praise of Strom Thurmond that led to Lott’s resignation from his post as Senate majority leader.
By the mid to late 2000s, blogs grew to represent groups unified along common interests or states of life. Mommy bloggers, sports blogger, political bloggers, entertainment gossip, tech bloggers, comic books—you name the interest, a blog community (not a single blog, but entire circles of content creators and discussion leaders) would spring up. It became fairly common for many bloggers to monetize their blogs successfully (relatively). It went from special interest to serious business.
Social Media Steps In
With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, and other microblogging services such as Tumblr and Posterous, many blog networks have seen their communities drawn away from the message boards and comment sections—people who were in the audience now find themselves key contributors. It’s not just that everybody has a blog: everyone has three or four online presences that could be technically classified as blogs.
There is still a place for blogs that create or aggregate compelling, interesting, entertaining content. But they now have to compete in an ever-changing blogosphere in which everyone fancies themselves content creators.