On the Origin of Blogging – Why is it Called a Blog?

Unless you’ve been comfortably living under a rock for the past few decades, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘blogging’. In fact, you’re reading these words on a blog right now, so the likelihood of you not knowing what a blog is, is quite slim.

I myself had heard of blogs and read some blog posts in the past. Finally, about a fortnight ago, I created my own blog that you’re reading these words on right now. Since I am so new to it, there are still so many things about blogging that I do not know. Thus, this is certainly not an exhaustive post providing a detailed outline of blogging. Rather, this is a brief post based on a small amount of research about blogging.

What I was curious about was this: why is it called ‘blogging’? To appease my curiosity, I decided to do a touch of light research and write it into a blog post (this one you’re reading right now, in case you hadn’t already figured that one out (I’m sure you had)).

Blogs as a concept have existed essentially since the creation of the World Wide Web in the late ‘90s (Rettberg 6). The term ‘blog’ originated in the late ’90s. The term arose as an abbreviated form of the term ‘weblog’, as in ‘web log’. ‘Web log’ became pronounced as ‘we blog’, and from there became abbreviated to just ‘blog’. Early blogger Peter Merholz is credited as being the first person to abbreviate ‘weblog’ to ‘blog’, in 1999 (Rettberg 11). The term ‘blog’ was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003 (OED). For more definitions on the term ‘blog’, see this post from problogger.com.

This term ‘blog’ then became the base word for many derivatives such as the verbs ‘blogging’ and ‘blogged’, and the noun ‘blogger’. In recent years, as the popularity of camera recording devices and apps and of posting self-made videos online has increased, the term ‘vlog’ has emerged as a form of video-blogging/a video-log.

Some early blogs began as posts which were a list of links linking to other blogs and/or sites, with little or no commentary. Other early blogs were online journal-entry type posts, with (often anonymous) users using their blogs as a form of noting and posting their thoughts and daily lives (Rettberg 10). Whilst such blogs and blog posts do still continue this same trend, there are now a wide variety of different types of content in blogs today.

A blog differs from a website as websites are often static and blogs are typically updated frequently. Furthermore, blogs have posts arranged in reverse chronological order (newer posts first) whereas websites usually have pages which are not arranged chronologically (wpbeginner.com).

Due to the rising popularity of blogging, free blogging platforms which enabled users to create and build their own blogs emerged. The first of these free platforms was ‘Pitas’ which emerged in July 1999, followed closely by ‘Blogger’ in August 1999. ‘Wordpress’, the platform on which this blog is located, was launched a few years after, in 2003. Tools and platforms such as this continued the growing popularity of blogging, and made blogging easier and more accessible. Today, blogs can be created in a matter of minutes with no prior coding experience necessary to create a blog or publish blog posts. Early bloggers, contrastingly, had to entirely code their blogs and blog posts manually using HTML, or by using a visual HTML editor such as ‘Dreamweaver’ (Rettberg 9).

Today, people blog from all over the world. These blogs are written on an incredibly wide range of topics. If you can think of a topic, there’s probably at least one blog about it. Along with many different types of blog content, there are many ‘blogging communities’ in which bloggers about similar content form a kind of online community to become friends, share ideas, write ‘guest posts’, or simply to stay in contact about content they are interested in.

Internet users blog for a variety of different reasons, which is reflected in the type of blog they have. These include personal blogs, professional portfolios, and business blogs. Many users also make money off of their blogs, often from revenue acquired from advertising, product endorsements, and ‘clicks’—so when other internet users click on a link on a blog, the blog user earns a small amount of money.

source: Rettberg, Jill Walker. Blogging. Second ed., 2014.

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