Blogs appear on the news pretty often these days. For example, a reporter is tipped to a story by a blog, or a blog reports another angle on a story. Blogs show up in magazines a lot, too.

But there is a good chance you have never seen a blog (also known as a weblog) or experienced the Blogosphere. What are blogs? There are now millions of them -- where did they all come from?

In this article, you will have a chance to enter the world of blogging. You will even learn how to create your own blog and publish it to the world.









What is a Blog?
One of the things that is so amazing about blogs is their simplicity.

Think about a "normal Web site." It usually has a home page, with links to lots of sub-pages that have more detail. HowStuffWorks is like this, with thousands of information pages all organized under a home page. A small business site follows the same format -- it might have a home page and five or 10 sub-pages. Most traditional Web sites follow this format. If the site is small, it is sort of like an online brochure. If it is large, it is like an electronic encyclopedia.

A typical Web site has a home page that links to sub-pages within the site. CNN.com, pictured above, is typical of this genre. The CNN site contains thousands of articles all organized into big categories. The categories and all the latest stories are accessed from the home page.

A blog is much simpler:

* A blog is normally a single page of entries. There may be archives of older entries, but the "main page" of a blog is all anyone really cares about.

* A blog is organized in reverse-chronological order, from most recent entry to least recent.

* A blog is normally public -- the whole world can see it.

* The entries in a blog usually come from a single author.

* The entries in a blog are usually stream-of-consciousness. There is no particular order to them. For example, if I see a good link, I can throw it in my blog. The tools that most bloggers use make it incredibly easy to add entries to a blog any time they feel like it.

A typical blog has a main page and nothing else. On the main page, there is a set of entries. Each entry is a little text blurb that may contain embedded links out to other sites, news stories, etc. When the author adds a new entry, it goes at the top, pushing all the older entries down. This blog also has a right sidebar that contains additional permanent links to other sites and stories. The author might update the sidebar weekly or monthly.

Basically, a blog is a lot like an online journal or diary. The author can talk about anything and everything. Many blogs are full of interesting links that the author has found. Blogs often contain stories or little snippets of information that are interesting to the author.

Even though blogs can be completely free-form, many blogs have a focus. For example, if a blogger is interested in technology, the blogger might go to the Consumer Electronics Show and post entries of the things he/she sees there. If a blogger is interested in a certain disease, he/she might post every news article and every piece of research he/she finds on the disease. If a blogger is interested in economic issues, he/she might post links to articles that discuss the economy and then offer commentary on them.

There are people who use their blogs simply as a scrapbook -- a form of online memory. Whenever the author finds a link or a snippet of information that he/she wants to remember, it gets posted in the blog. Even if no one else ever looks at it, it is still useful to the author because the blog is a searchable electronic medium that the author can access with a Web browser anywhere in the world.

In other words, a blog can be anything the author wants it to be. The thing that all blogs have in common is the reverse-chronological ordering of entries.