[NYT] Invasion of the Blog. (Blogger now has 75,000 registered users.)

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From: Adam Rifkin (adam@KnowNow.com)
Date: Sat Dec 30 2000 - 00:14:13 PST

"blah blah blah new york times "Web logs" blah blah williams blah
hourihan blah blah blood blah this is news." -- peterme at


Okay, so Rohit pointed it out to me first...


December 28, 2000
Invasion of the 'Blog': A Parallel Web of Personal Journals
Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan, founders of Pyra.com in San Francisco,
created Blogger to help them update their Web logs. Blogger now has
75,000 registered users.

These sites are not part of The New York Times on the Web, and The Times
has no control over their content or availability.

-- /usr/bin/girl = a girl, a browser, and a lot of spare time

-- Follow Me Here Wide-ranging articles and links compiled by a psychiatrist.

-- Camworld One of the oldest Web logs, heavy on tech links.

-- Blogger The most popular Web log tool.

-- Pitas.com Will be the host of your Web log.

-- EditThisPage.com Similar to Pitas, but with more advanced publishing functions.

-- Eatonweb Portal Directory of Web logs.

-- Weblogs.com List of updated Web logs, refreshed hourly.

-- Weblog Madness An exhaustive list of links.


The concept is simple enough. Create a Web page. Update it regularly
with brief personal reflections or witty commentary, sprinkled with
links to other pages. Put new entries at the top of the page, pushing
older ones down. Voila, you've got yourself a Web log.

That may not sound like the recipe for a social movement. But in the
past two years, thousands of people have started their own Web logs,
creating a vast sprawl of sites that, to the uninitiated, might feel
like a parallel Web universe.

Early Web logs ("blogs" for short) were created by programmers or Web
designers who had site-building skills and were immersed in Web
culture. The introduction of free online tools like Blogger has made Web
publishing much easier, setting off a burst of creativity and pushing
Web logs closer to the mainstream.

"The promise of the World Wide Web was that anyone could put something
up, but you really did need to know some HTML to do that," said Rebecca
Blood, who updates a Web log at www.rebeccablood.net from her home in
San Francisco. Tools like Blogger and Pitas.com "remove that final
little barrier," she said.

Web logs differ from old-fashioned personal home pages in their emphasis
on regular updates with brief entries. The most ambitious Web logs
provide a view of the Web and the world through the eyes of a curious
and avid surfer, offered up for anyone who might share the same tastes
and interests. When these Web loggers come across an interesting article
or a particularly beautiful, funny or obscure site, they link to it,
adding their own comments.

A good example is Peterme.com, a Web log by Web designer Peter Merholz,
who linked recently to the abstract of a master's thesis on information
architecture, an article on homemade robots and the Library of
Congress's online exhibit of vintage Coca- Cola ads.

The basic ingredients of a site like that are text and links -- the
most primitive of Web page elements. No fancy new technology
necessary. So why is the Web log format catching on now?

Much of it has to do with the availability of tools that take the tedium
out of updates. But Evan Williams, who created Blogger with Meg Hourihan
at Pyra.com Ltd. in San Francisco, said the format also represented an
evolution in Web publishing.

Most Web sites still adhere to print models. Home pages are like tables
of contents, and articles appear on individual pages. Until Web logs,
Mr. Williams said, there was no obvious way to present small bits of
text, like a few paragraphs or just a link.

"What blogs do is they give a context for chunks, and they arrange them
chronologically, which is really simple for people to follow,"
Mr. Williams said. "That for me is an example of a medium finding
something that works and that's unique to the medium."

Ms. Hourihan said Web logs were appealing because they offered a feeling
of community and a chance to communicate, much as chat rooms and message
boards do -- but with an important difference.

Web logs are elaborately cross-linked, with Web loggers reading and
commenting upon one another's sites, creating a kind of fragmented
conversation. But a personal Web log is, in the end, a private
playground, a place for self-expression without the criticism and
hostility that can flame up in online forums. "I can post the most
egregious statement," Ms. Hourihan said, "and nobody can do anything
about it."

Mr. Williams and Ms. Hourihan, who founded Pyra two years ago, wrote
Blogger as a side project to help them update their own Web logs, then
put it on the Web in August 1999. Since then, with a minimum of
promotion, it has attracted 75,000 registered users.

Web developers and other Internet industry types took to Blogger
immediately because it imposed a minimum of restrictions on the design
and location of the finished product. Unlike home-page providers like
Geocities, Blogger does not actually play host to any sites.

Instead, it can be configured to put your finished ad-free pages
anywhere on the Web. (In September, however, Pyra did introduce
BlogSpot, which is an advertising- supported host service for
Blogger-generated Web logs. It now acts as a host for more than 18,000
sites, but you don't have to use it.)

After going through a somewhat complex setup process, Blogger users can
add to a log from any computer with a browser, or even from wireless
devices. Blogger also archives old entries. The basic Blogger service is
free, but Pyra plans to charge a fee for Blogger Pro, a more
sophisticated version of the tool that will be released in the next few

Mr. Williams said Blogger Pro would include features that would appeal
to professional publishers and that some newspapers had expressed an
interest in using it.

The Web log format has already been adopted by many professional sites
inside and outside the technology world. Some Web logs track
developments in a particular industry, like Jim Romenesko's Media News
(www.poynter.org/medianews). One well-known log on a newspaper site is
that of The Guardian in London (www.guardian.co.uk/weblog), which sends
its visitors off to read articles of note in other publications.

That, of course, breaks a fundamental rule of commercial Web publishing:
keep people on your site for as long as possible. But it makes perfect
sense in the Web log world -- if you give people great links, they
will come back for more.

"We are always sending people away from our sites," Ms. Blood said. "I
think that Web logs represent a much more profound understanding of the
Web itself than I've seen on any commercial site."

In September, Ms. Blood posted on her site an essay called Weblogs: A
History and Perspective (www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html),
which, like everything written about Web logs, was promptly linked to
and analyzed by other Web loggers. In it she noted that many Web log
creators were building more personal sites, posting journal-style
entries instead of focusing on new links. She traced the trend in part
to Blogger's simple interface, which, she said, "places no restrictions
on the form of content being posted."

A random sampling of the newly updated Web logs listed on Blogger's home
page provides evidence of the trend. A surprising number are published
by college or even high school students, and they are written as if with
a small audience of friends in mind. (Sample entry: "I'm thinking about
how life and high school has changed all of us.")

Web logs started as a way to help people filter out the Web's junk and
find something interesting. But the boom in the Web log population can
also mean yet more junk. Recently Graham Freeman, an Australian Web
logger, created the Kill Your Weblog Test (grudnuk.com/killyrblog), a
series of 25 multiple-choice questions designed to help one decide
whether one's Web log deserves to live.

His motivation was clear. "It has been unilaterally decided," he wrote,
"that there are too many weblogs for the collective attention."


And if you crave ultimate speed, note that the first- place winner in almost every test isn't a Pentium at all; it's the 1.2-gigahertz Athlon, a chip made by AMD, Intel's rival. -- http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/28/technology/28STAT.html

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