Blogging: sound off to the world for free

Have you ever had the urge to sound off or vent your joy, frustration, excitement, or indifference about some subject matter? Or had information you wanted to share with your friends and family that just couldn’t wait until the annual Christmas newsletter?  Well, rejoice, for blogging has arrived—and it can be as easy as typing an e-mail.
“Blogging” is the act of posting to a weblog (or ’blog in its shortened version). Weblogs are regularly-updated—or in many cases, not-so-regularly-updated—websites, usually created by individuals for the purpose of publishing . . . well, whatever they want.
The subject matter of ’blogs is as varied as the people who create them. There are political ’blogs, funny ’blogs, technical ’blogs, and personal ’blogs. Heck, somewhere out there, someone probably is blogging about virtually any topic you can think of.
The phenomenon of blogging is not really new. The very first ’blog also was the very first website, built by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventer of the World Wide Web. He originally used it to point to all the new sites as they came online.
It is truly mind-boggling to think that, only 12 years ago, all the websites in the world could be documented on one page.
The concept of personal publishing of information really began to flourish in 1996 with early efforts by such digital pioneers as Dave Winer, one of the best-known bloggers, and Lawrence Lee, a web design guru.
Both of them still publish their weblogs almost a decade later. And now, they’re joined by hundreds of thousands of other weblogs—available for anyone to read.
Reading other people’s weblogs has a strange, almost voyeuristic, sense to it. They’re essentially online journals, which many people use as a recording of what’s happening in their lives, how they’re feeling, or what they did on a given day.
It is, in a sense, like you’ve stumbled across another person’s diary.
One of the funnier examples is the Naughty Milkmaid, written by a bored female dairy farmer whose marriage is falling apart. “I am sick of milking cows,” she writes in a typical entry. “The hours are long, the pay sucks, and the boss is a jerk.
“I am married to that jerk and have been for seven loooooong years. That is two years too long.”
Or you could choose to read The Rock And Roll Report, where the author collects bits and pieces of information about music bands and the music business.
For instance, I wouldn’t have known that Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo is starting “Rock Jocks,” a hockey team of Canadian rock-and-rollers who will play against a team of MPs next week in Ottawa.
They’ll teach those politicians all about slashing services.
The great thing about ’blogs is their accessibility, and their flexibility. They can be used as a family or team communication tool, where everyone can post information.
You also can set them up privately, so only authorized people can read your posts.
So, are you ready to start your own ’blog? It’s easy—and it’s free, depending on where you go. The easiest and the cheapest has got to be, where you sign up for an account, walk through a few steps, and start writing.
For a more complex, but more customizable, blogging service, you can try Radio Userland. It installs blogging software right on your computer, so you don’t need to use your web browser to update your ’blog.
Radio Userland’s “Radio” software costs $40 (U.S.) per year to use.
For the technically-inclined, there’s also Movable Type, a very handy software packkage that has almost infinitely customizable features. I use Movable Type for my own, constantly outdated family weblog.
Next week, look for a new article about how Internet Explorer isn’t necessarily the best—or the only—web browser out there, and what alternatives are available.
•The Naughty Milkmaid
•The Rock and Roll Report
•Blogger Software
•Radio Userland
•Movable Type

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