Monday, December 27, 2004

UPDATED: 2004: The Year of the Blog

And not just the year of my blog, either.

I've been wanting to do a post like this for some time, and I guess the time has come. When I started this blog in November of 2004, I didn't have any real goals in was just a little experiment. I'v always had a passion for news and politics, especially those items that don't make it in the media. I had taken it upon myself to keep all my friends and family updated via emails on those items I was afraid everyone would miss. Then I decided to start a blog and put it all there and spare everyone my frequent emails.

Now, after just a couple of short month, I've learned so much more about the "blogosphere" and how important it is going to be in the future, not just in the US but especially around the world. Here's my brief-as-possible story of why:

First of all, for most of my visitors anyway, (especially the ones visiting here for the first time because of our Christmas newsletter!) the first question is "what the heck is a blog anyway?" I know that's the question of the year because it was the most looked-up term of 2004 at Merriam-Webster's website. Oh, and their definition?

Merriam-Webster defines a blog as: "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks".

So there you have it! Now that you know what it is, the question that begs to be asked is....WHY? Why on earth start a personal journal online? Who supposes that anyone gives a rats rear-end what they have to say? And WHO does, anyway? Does anyone actually read this stuff??

Well apparently someone read them because just said
Freewheeling bloggers can boost your product—or destroy it. Either way, they've become a force business can't afford to ignore.
in this article about blogs and their influence. The article goes on to say
It all used to be so easy; the adage went "never pick a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel." But now everyone can get ink for free, launch a diatribe, and—if what they have to say is interesting to enough people—expect web-enabled word of mouth to carry it around the world
The article goes on to list lots of example of how blogs have influenced products available for sale, news items, etc.

As a matter of fact, this article lists the Top 10 blogging accomplishments of 2004. Here's the short list:

10. The Passion versus Fahrenheit 911 - bloggers posted about their faves and gave us a taste of how the blue vs. red would continue to polarize over the year.
9. Winter Soldier - as soon as he's the offical nominee, John Kerry's speech before congress in 1971 is quoted all over the blogosphere and the military records search is unleashed.
8. Iraq then and Now - Bloggers ripped up Al Gore's accusations against President Bush and his mentioning of Osama Bin Ladin.
7. Den Beste's Fall Preview - Blogger Steven Den Beste correctly predicts the Fall comeback for the Bush campaign.
6. The Exit Polls - Once again, fact checking bloggers declare the exit polls to be hog wash long before the final results are in.
5. Political Conventions - Bloggers were invited to attend the events, they live-blogged them and then were interviewed on TV afterwards....all starting the trend of making blogging a household word.
4. Campaign Violence - when the MSM (main stream media) was silent, the bloggers brought to the light all the acts of violence committed by the democratic supporters across the country.
3. The New York Times announces it's liberal - in an article that went, once again, unnoticed by the MSM, the NYT confirmed what everyone already suspected...and the bloggers had a field day.
2. Christmas in Cambodia - With prominent bloggers linking to their publicity videos and making them some of the most-watched campaign ads, the SwiftVets had their say with Kerry and his heroic Vietnam claims.
1. RatherGate - The Big Kahoona. Within a couple of hours, the supposed smoking-gun docs against Bush were completely nullified by investigative bloggers. Some of the more prominent ones were interviewed and mentioned on TV and "bloggers" officially became a household word!
(this list was excerpted from TechCentralStation)

As if that weren't all enough to give credit to blogging and it's worth today, there's even more. A far greater achievement for bloggers is the simple democracy they represent. Anyone can start a blog and write about whatever they want: gardening, parenting, war, politics, bicycling, and even...politics in Iraq! Matt, who has the blog Blackfive says this about blogging in Iraq:

Imagine what would happen to the spin of the Main Stream Media and Al Jazeera if there were thousands of Iraqi bloggers. Imagine what that would do for Freedom and Democracy. Imagine what that would do for Peace.

That's what Spirit of America is all about...Freedom, Democracy, Peace. And they are doing something about bringing those concepts into reality.

They developed an Arabic Blogging Tool prototype (with help from Iraq the Model and Jeff Jarvis) that will help to stimulate discourse in Iraq. Not pro-American discourse, just free and open discourse

What if Bloggers' voices could be heard, not only in Iraq, but also in Iran, China, Cuba, North get the picture. If fact-checkers could anonymously post from their homes about what's really going on, the impact on freedom and democracy could be huge. Read Blackfive's entire article on the subject. Matt attended a conference, along with the Iraqi blogging brothers of Iraq the Model, on this very subject and it's worldwide impact.

So now, maybe I've convinced you that blogging can be very important for the simple fact that it IS just regular ole folks talking about what interests them....for the world to read, if it so chooses. Ready to join the ranks?

I'm not going to re-invent the wheel, so here are some great links for anyone interested in getting starting with a blog:

Understanding and Reading a Blog

Everything You Wanted to Know About Blogging But Were Afraid to Ask

Summary of Blogging Articles

Now if you're ready to start ivestigating blogs for the first time (surely not, but you never know) you can always start with my blogroll favorites, or you can check out The 2004 Weblog Award Winners for the best of the blogs listed by category.

Well there you have it. I'm not even going to go back over this post and start re-wording it, etc. because that's the beauty of blogging. I'm not a writer or a journalist...I'm not looking to get a book deal. I'm just writing whatever comes to mind and putting it out there. Enjoy!

UPDATE: More bloggers blogging about blogs (I love saying that!):

Pajama Hadin

Mudville Gazette

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