The History of Blogging

by Catherine Petersen

In the beginning there were digital communities . . . 

Community Memory
1972-1974


community memory
Image: www.bambi.net/computer_museum/

Created by:
Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski, and Lee Felsenstein


Read an excerpt from the Community Memory message base, ca. 1973

 

Bulletin Board Systems (BBS)
1978



Image: www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/187

1978: The First Computer Bulletin Board System, CBBS, Goes Online
The Fathers of Bulletin Board Systems:
Ward Christensen and Randy Suess

An interview with the "Fathers"
BBS The Documentary
See trailers on BBS The Documentary




Usenet
1979

What is Usenet?
An early version of blogging that gained popularity was digital communities. These included:Usenet, GEnie, CompuServe,and e-mail lists.

 

Internet forum
1996 -

History of Internet Forums
Because of software like WebEx; threads, or topic connectors that allowed for ongoing conversations that could be posted one right after another appeared.

 
usenet
Image: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Usenet_serve...

"A diagram of some Usenet servers and clients. The blue, green, and red dots on the servers represent which groups they carry. Arrows between servers indicate that the servers are sharing the articles from the groups. Arrows between computers and servers indicate that the user is subscribed to a certain group, and uploads and downloads articles to and from that server."
http://www.well.com/~szpak/cm/benway.html

 

hit and run comic
Image: www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/sea0222l.jpg

In online forums and other online discussion spaces, a hit-and-run post is the term used to describe users who register for the service, post one message, then never return. In most cases these single posts contains information not related to the forum topic or the post may contain a single URL that is posted for the purpose of advertising (Webopedia).

continued chronology . . .

1989 - Berners-Lee ". . . published protocols for HTTP, HTML and URLs . . . he built the first graphical, point-and-click browser, which he dubbed WorldWideWeb. He had a web site http://info.cern.ch/ that although not technically a blog, it exhibited two characteristics common to today's blogs: It served as a resource for web pointers from a trusted editor, and it served as as spur to dialog and collaboration" (Stefanac, 37-38).

1994 - online diaries.

 

1995 - WebEx, collaboration software developed by Subrah Iyar and Min Zhu.

 

1997 - The word "blog" is shortened from weblog by Peter Merholz. He says he will call them "wee blogs." The term "weblog" is coined by Jorn Barger (Blood).
- Slashdot - url is http://slashdot.org/: began in September 1997. ". . . the granddaddy or a school of web filter sites that some are calling meme trackers: "A memetracker is a tool for studying the migration of memes across a group of people. The term is typically used to describe web sites that either:
1.Analyze blog posts to determine what web pages are being discussed or cited most often on the World Wide Web, or
2. Allow users to vote for links to web pages that they find of interest" (From meme trackers, Wikipedia).

1998 - Open Diary was the first collection of online diaries where individuals could comment on other's entries.

 

1999 (A big year)
- LiveJournal started by Brad Fitzpatrick.
- Jesse-James Garrett publishes 23 weblogs on Infosift (Stefanac, 107). See: The Page of Only.
Weblogs.
"Composing more than 4,800 pages from nearly a decade of constant writing, which he posted on his site, www.links.net, Justin Hall became a pioneer among online diarists and Webloggers" (Harmanci)

- The last VLOG! (Dark Night). Scripting News by Dave Winer's is also one of the original and longest running weblogs. The first weblogs were very much like websites that were updated on a regular basis. As time went on, software tools were created that allowed for web articles to be ". . . posted in reverse chronological order made the publishing process feasible to a much larger, less technical, population. Ultimately, this resulted in the distinct class of online publishing that produces blogs we recognize today"(Wikipedia).
- Brigitte Eaton makes a list of weblogs and posts in on the Eatonweb Portal. "Brig evaluated all submissions by a simple criterion: that the site consist of dated entries. Webloggers debated what was and what was not a weblog, but since the Eatonweb Portal was the most complete listing of weblogs available, Brig's inclusive definition prevailed" (Blood).
- Pitas, the first free build-your-own-weblog tool launched, and suddenly there were hundreds" (Blood). Invented by Andrew Smales, who at

. . . twenty-nine, sort of blundered into blogging as he was developing software that would allow him to more easily update his personal Website and also facilitate the "online diary community" he envisioned. Personal sites such as his aren't listed prominently on Internet search engines, and Smales thought it would be "cool if I could just click around to read what other people were saying," rather than surf blindly for their sites. As Smales worked on the software, he posted updates on his site, prompting visitors to offer suggestions. It was a comment from a visitor that clued Smales into the nascent blogging community, and he set to work on a sister project to the diary software — a blogging tool that would become Pitas. Diaryland, Smales's diary site, followed soon thereafter, and both have grown steadily since. (Jensen)

- Blogrole - "The first is a “blogroll”, along the side of the blog page, which is a list of links to other blogs that the author recommends (not to be confused with the hyperlinks inside the posts). In practice, the blogroll is an attempt by the author to place his blog in a specific genre or group, and a reciprocal effort by a posse of bloggers to raise each other's visibility on the internet (because the number of incoming links pushes a blog higher in search-engine results). The other feature is “trackback”, which notifies (“pings”) a blog about each new incoming link from the outside—a sort of gossip-meter, in short" (The Economist).
- Blogger.com was introduced by its inventors Evan Williams, Paul Bausch, and Meg Hourihan in August, 1999. It soon became the most popular because it let ". . . people store blogs on their own servers, rather than on a remote base. This allows them to have a personalized address (like www.yourname.com), whereas with other blogging tools your address starts at the remote server" (Jensen). Rebecca Blood writes:

Now, during 1999 something else happened, and I believe it has to do with the introduction of Now, during 1999 something else happened, and I believe it has to do with the introduction of Blogger itself (). While weblogs had always included a mix of links, commentary, and personal notes, in the post-Blogger explosion increasing numbers of weblogs eschewed this focus on the web-at-large in favor of a sort of short-form journal. These blogs, often updated several times a day, were instead a record of the blogger's thoughts: something noticed on the way to work, notes about the weekend, a quick reflection on some subject or another. Links took the reader to the site of another blogger with whom the first was having a public conversation or had met the previous evening, or to the site of a band he had seen the night before. Full-blown conversations were carried on between three or five blogs, each referencing the other in their agreement or rebuttal of the other's positions. Cults of personality sprung up as new blogs appeared, certain names appearing over and over in daily entries or listed in the obligatory sidebar of "other weblogs" (a holdover from Cam's original list). It was, and is, fascinating to see new bloggers position themselves in this community, referencing and reacting to those blogs they read most, their sidebar an affirmation of the tribe to which they wish to belong. (Blood, 2000)

2000 - Boing Boing at http://boingboing.net/. "The site began as a zine in 1988 and became a website in 1995 and then in 2000 a weblog which the authors called a 'directory of wonderful things.' It was one of the first blog sites to advertise and reach "financial stability." One of the editors, Cory Doctorow, has been influential in the blog world and The Creative Commons (Stefanac, 39-41).

 

2001 - Blogosphere coined by William Quick: the word refers to the universe of blogs (Cooper, 15). A blogosphere is a social network, primarily in text that can be archived and traced back to its original blogger (Tremayne, Introduction x-xi).
- 9/11: The event that marked the beginning of political blogging (Tremayne, Introduction xii). See Charles Cooper's Cnet.com blog post from September, 21, 2001 "When Blogging Came of Age. ". . . Blogs, by their nature,  spawn communities " (Stefanac, 3).
- Tagging and Folksonomies  (2002-2004) as a way to categorize using descriptors applied to blog entries or web pages is credited as having started with Joshua Schachter and his ultimate tagging service, del.icio.us. was launched in 2005 (Stefanac, 126-127).
- Fisking, a type of rebuttal particularly associated with political blogs:a blogger will copy text he may disagree with and point to text he believes correct (Cooper, 293).

2003-2006 - Videoblogging or Vlogging.

2004 - blog  named word of the year by Merriam-Webster dictionary.
- Blogging is mainstream. Blogs are used for news sources and politics.

 

2004-2006 - User friendly blog software, often self hosted, blogging software such as Movabletype, Wordpress, Typepad and Sixapart are introduced.

 

2006 - Technorat.com reports nearly fifty million blogs (approximately 50,000 new posts an hour). Technorat.com can handle "blog-specific searches" thus capturing clusters of related blogs (Tremayne, Introduction xi).
- Micro-blogging: allows users to write brief text updates (usually 140 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web. The most popular service is Twitter, which was launched in July 2006 (Wikipedia).

2007 - ". . . today two-thirds of all blogs are written-in descending order by frequency-in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Italian, Russian, French, Portuguese, and German (Stefanac, 2).

The future holds . . .


Image: Make: News from the Future at http://makezine.com/nff/

"The numbers of clients is so great that the need is for a server to be able to operate more or less independently of the number of clients. The are cases when the readership of documents is so great that the load on severs becomes quite unacceptable" (Berners-Lee, 1996).

The biggest trend on the horizon for blogging is the addition of features like videos, music, photos. And yet these same assets may lead to more cluttered blogs. The continued development of blogging software that allows for these additional features will also increase. "The biggest future blog-design challenge: How do we design blogs that will archive and present 20 years worth of content?"(Business Week, Innovations Q & A, The Future of the Blog , Interview with Mena Trott, 7/24/2006).

The future of blogging holds the possibility for increased cocooning; bloggers who will only access those blogs that align with their own views. This may lead to more one-dimensional mindsets that result in less diverse discussion and fragmentation of communities. Blogrolls' (see definition: CommonCraft November 25, 2003) ability for a collection of hyperlinks to weblogs placed on the side of a column of a weblog contribute to cocooning by pointing the blogger to an entire list of specifically related material. Blogwarms, or an exceptional number of blogs on the same topic, (See http://wordpress.com/tag/active-blogswarms/) are as an example of this (Cooper, 292-293).

Major impact on media and journalism and more locally focused blogging such as Backfence.com, an open-source type of journalism that "empowers the readers to become the producers" (Tremayne, 268-269). Bloggers will increasingly become ". . . the watchdogs of the watchdogs" (Tremayne, 270).

"The growth rate of blogs is impressive. Technorati, a search engine that monitors blogs, tracked more than 8 million online diaries as of March 21, up from 100,000 just two years ago. A new blog is created every 7.4 seconds. That adds up to 12,000 new blogs a day, 275,000 posts a day and 10,800 updates an hour" From:The future of blogging, KnowledgeWharton, Special to CNET News.com April 5, 2005.

Trend for future blogging as reported in The Future of Blogging by Darren Rouse, ProBlogger:

  • adding authors - group blogs are the new black
  • clustering blogs around verticals - bloggers extending their blogs by adding sibling blogs on related topics
  • networking - 2006 was really the year of the blog network but it continues to happen in both loose and formal ways. Many of the blog networks didn't’t really survive but there are quite a few that continue to bubble away and sustain themselves
  • adding services and features - whether it be video, podcasts, forums, job boards, classifieds, chat features, voting tools… many bloggers are beginning to add interesting features to their blogs that attempt to add value to blogs. I think what we’re seeing is bloggers more willing to see the limitations of blogs and wanting to blur the edges of what is and isn’t a blog. (2007)

"So how do we plan for a better future, better for society?"

We ensure that that both technological protocols and social conventions respect basic values. That Web remains a universal platform: independent of any specific hardware device, software platform, language, culture, or disability. That the Web does not become controlled by a single company -- or a single country" (Berners-Lee, 2007).


SEE video clip of Berners-Lee: The Future of the Web

Also see:
The Future of Blogs: Tagging by Olga Karif, Business Newsweek, 2008

Weblogged; The Future of Blogs.

Home

References

BBC News. (2007, March 28). Call for blogging code of conduct. BBC News. Retrieved July 10, 2008, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6502643.stm

Berners-Lee, T. (November, 1990). WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a hyperText project. Retrieved July 8, 2008, from http://www.w3.org/Proposal.html

Berners-Lee, T. (1996). The Web: Past, Present and Future.

Berners-Lee, T. (2007-03-01). The Future of the Web. Testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

Berners-Lee, T.(2008). The Future of the Web. NESTA. Retrieved July 18, 2008 from http://www.nesta.org.uk/future-of-web-tim-berners-lee/?playvideo=1

Blogging Wikia. (n.d.) Retrieved Jul 10, 2008, from the Blogging Wiki: http://blogging.wikia.com/wiki/Blogging_Wikia

Blogging:Blogger's Code of Conduct. (n.d.) Retrieved Jul 10, 2008, from the Blogging: Blogger's Code of Conduct:
http://blogging.wikia.com/wiki/Blogger%27s_Code_of_Conduct

Blood, R. Weblogs: A history and perspective, Rebecca's Pocket. 07 Sept. 2000. 25 October 2006. Retrieved July 19, 2008 from http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html

Cooper, D. (2006). Watching the watchdog: Bloggers as the fifth estate. Spokane, Wash.; Marquete Books.

Festa. P. (February 25, 2003). Newsmaker: Blogging comes to Harvard, CNET. Retrieved July 14, 2008 from http://news.com.com/2008-1082-985714.html

Harmanci, R. (February 20, 2005). Time to get a life — pioneer blogger Justin Hall bows out at 31. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 8, 2008 from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/02/20/MNGBKBEJO01.DTL

Jensen, M. (2003). A Brief History of Weblogs. Columbia Journalism Review at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, 3. Retrieved July 10, 2008, from
http://cjrarchives.org/issues/2003/5/blog-jensen.asp?printerfriendly=yes

Kottke, J. (August 26, 2003). It's the links, stupid. Message posted to kottke.org
http://www.kottke.org/03/08/its-weblog-not-web-log

O’Reilly, T. (2007, April 8). Draft blogger's code of conduct. Message posted to O’Reilly Radar:
http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/04/draft_bloggers_1.html

Stefanac, S. (2007). Dispatches from Blogistan: A travel guide for the modern blogger. Berkeley, California: New Riders.

The Economist (2006, June 20). It's the links, stupid. The Economist. Retrieved July 14, 2008 from
http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=6794172

Tremayne, M. (ed.). (2007). Blogging, citizenship, and the future of media. London; New York: Routledge.