Merriam-Webster set the blogosophere buzzing this week with its announcement that the word “blog” was among the most looked-up words of the year. The curious hordes were likely puzzled, however, by Merriam-Webster’s definition: “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks.”
Is that all? So what?
A New Year’s Eve dinner led to a discussion of blogs with many at the table not yet familiar with the blogosphere. “How is a blog any different from a Web page?” T said.
I had a hard time answering, partly because of the wine and partly because I remove my front tooth denture while eating so I have trouble with several letters of the alphabet (s and f, to name two), and this made it difficult for anyone to take me seriously. (The denture is new and an interim fix until I get an implant.)
I tried to talk about the easy-to-update idea of blogging and how it’s kind of a journal. But that’s really not why I’m here writing in my blog. Blogging is really about the community.
Let me explain. Today I dropped in on one of my regular blog reads, Pharnygula. I read some posts about the Tsunami and learned that the death toll could rise to 400,000 (direct deaths from the event). Seems there are some large cities in Indonesia that are missing. I hadn’t read this anywhere yet so it was news to me. I am shocked. I can’t really get a handle on the enormity of this disaster. Can anyone?
Pharnygula discussed donations and linked to The Command Post’s list of organizations accepting donations. This list includes smaller groups in the affected countries.
From Command Post, I found a link to a page of overhead costs for disaster relief organizations. I was considering giving to Oxfam but the high overhead cost listed is making me reconsider. I may just give to the Red Cross which has a relatively low overhead cost.
So I traveled a route, dropping by trusted sources within the blogosphere, that provided me with new facts and knowledge.
Then I turn to my own blog and write this post, reflecting and hopefully learning more by writing this. I have planned to write regularly for several years (constant New Year’s resolutions, right?) and it finally was the blog that got me writing. Is it the potential for an audience, even a small audience (Hi Roy!)? It may be just getting things out of my head and getting them out beyond a personal journal to the public commons because I have to think of things like voice (and spelling and punctuation). And I begin to feel responsible to the invisible audience (Roy?) out there and I want to add new posts for them to enjoy. And I want to remember stuff for myself and I can come back here and jog my neural cells. And if your path across the Web should find my blog, I would like it to grab your interest and draw you back again to see what else I have to say.
Jon Udell (refer to quote at the top of this post) sees the blogosphere as a network made up of people. “We are the nodes, actively filtering and retransmitting knowledge.”
I like that. Filtering, retransmitting, sharing knowledge. Then sifting, experiencing “ah ha” moments, and reflecting on what’s now germinating in my mind. Knowing that writing it down here will help it stick in my brain better. And maybe, just maybe, someone else will find these jottings useful.
Plus it’s fun. I’m a writer (at least in intention), publishing my work to the Web community. My web logs (the real logs that track visitors to the site) show that someone or something is crawling around here and traffic has increased since I began regular posting. It’s a rush every time I press the “Publish” button.
“Social networks” is the new term for this blog–wiki–del.icio.us world. I think there is something good here, that maybe a membrane of knowledge is coalescing around the globe that will help us in creating the global village.