As I browsed through latest arrivals at the local bookstore a
prominently displayed book caught my eye -- "The Complete Idiot's
Guide To Creating A Web Page And Blog." When a title with that
particular juxtaposition of words appears in bookstores, I think it
would be safe to say that the web phenomenon of href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogging">blogging, formerly
the domain of the tech-savvy elite, is now part of the popular
Nowhere was the impact of blogs (weblogs) more visible in 2004 than in
the political sphere. At the beginning of this year, blogs were
thought to have played an important role in organizing support for the
Howard Dean campaign for the Democratic party's presidential
candidate. Then, for the first time in history, prominent "bloggers"
were granted press credentials and reported via blogs from the
national conventions of both the Democratic and Republican parties
(CyberJournalist.net, 2004; Wolf, 2004). The traditional news media
couldn't help but take notice; newspapers and television networks
started featuring blogs by their own reporters (Kiely, 2003; Nunberg,
2004). As the election year news cycle heated up, blogs continued to
play an important role by dissecting the established media's coverage
and sometimes preempting them by breaking stories (CNN, 2004).
Not only have blogging tools improved, blog-related services have
become more sophisticated. Interested in finding out what's popular in
Check out MIT's Blogdex which tracks
the most "contagious information" spreading in the world of blogs. Or
try DayPop which publishes lists
of the most popular blogs and blog posts. href="http://www.technorati.com/">Technorati, which also publishes
similar lists, offers another useful feature. You can search for
sources that have linked to your searched site or subject. This is a
great way to discover new blogs that cover topics you are interested
in. For example, you can search for href="http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?rank=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.planetizen.com%2F">blogs
that link to Planetizen.
Free blog-hosting services make it simple for just about anyone to
start blogging. The pioneering web-hosting service href="http://www.blogger.com/">Blogger, established in 1999, was
bought by popular search engine Google in 2002. America Online (AOL)
brought blogs to the masses in 2003 when it started offering blogging
services to its subscribers. Providing further proof that blogging
cannot be ignored, software giant Microsoft announced this month that
it will offer blogging services too (Walker, 2004).
In July 2003, I wrote about the blogging phenomenon and its
potential for providing an exciting platform for discussing urban
planning and related issues. I also noted that I had found only a few
blogs that focused on urban planning, architecture, housing, urban
issues, and related topics (Chavan, 2003). Fortunately, there are many
more blogs covering these topics today. Here is a sampling of what you
can expect to find:
To read posts from more blogs about urban planning, architecture,
transportation, and related topics, visit Planetizen's href="http://www.planetizen.com/radar/">Radar, an aggregator that
collects syndicated content from multiple sources. If you maintain a
blog focusing on issues of interest to Planetizen readers let me
What started out as a simple but effective tool for maintaining an
online journal has already evolved into a vibrant ecosystem of
fast-flowing ideas. Interesting variants have emerged such as href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moblog">moblogs, href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CyborgLog">glogs, and href="http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/audio/mp3blog">mp3blogs.
Services such as Flickr combine
the convenience of camera phone digital photography with blogs
(Terdiman, 2004). Blogs have shaken up traditional news media and
given grassroots organizations a powerful medium to build
support. Businesses have recognized the marketing potential of blogs
(Kladko, 2004). With the availability of open source alternatives,
opportunities have opened up for government agencies to use blogs.
Blogging technology can be used to make the workings of a government
agency more accessible to citizens (Chavan, 2004).
A few weeks ago, Merriam-Webster Inc. announced that the word
“blog” was the “most looked-up word” this
year. The word will be a new entry in the next edition of the
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (CNN, 2004). The next year
promises to be as exciting as the last.
Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, he intended it to be a
communication medium for shared human knowledge. This meant that
"...it had to be not only easy to ‘browse’, but also easy
to express oneself." (Berners-Lee, 1997).The early part of the Web's
evolution threatened to turn it into a "glorified television channel"
-- a "read-only" medium with content being generated by a few large
media companies. By making it easier for anyone to express
themselves and contribute to shared human knowledge, blogs are
helping the Web realize its full potential.
Berners-Lee, T. (1997, December 3) Realising the Full Potential of
the Web, Presentation at W3C Meeting, London, href="http://www.w3.org/1998/02/Potential.html">http://www.w3.org/1998/02/Potential.html
Chavan, A. (2004) Developing an Open Source Content Management Strategy
for E-government. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Urban and
Regional Information Systems Association, Reno, NV, November 7-10. pp.
CNN (2004, November 30) Publisher: 'Blog' No. 1 word of the year,
CyberJournalist.net. (2004, July 27)
Who's blogging the convention. href="http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/001461.php"> style="text-decoration: underline;">http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/001461.php
Kiely, K. (2003, December 30) Freewheeling 'bloggers' are rewriting
rules of journalism, USA Today, href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/2003-12-30-blogging-usat_x.htm">http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/2003-12-30-blogging-usat_x.htm
Kladko, B. (2004, December 14) New kid on the blog, New Jersey
Record & Herald News. (Business News).
Nunberg, G. (2004, April 20) Blogging in the Global Lunchroom,
Fresh Air, National Public Radio.
Terdiman, D. (2004, December 09) Photo Site a Hit With Bloggers,
Wired, href="http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,65958,00.html">http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,65958,00.html href="http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/bernerslee.html">
Walker, L. (2004) A So-So Debut For Microsoft's Blog Service
[Electronic version]. Washington Post, December 5, 2004, p.F07, href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34407-2004Dec4.html">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34407-2004Dec4.html
Wolf, G. (2004) How the Internet Invented Howard Dean [Electronic
version]. Wired Magazine, 12.01, href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.01/dean.html">http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.01/dean.html
Abhijeet Chavan is
the co-founder and co-editor of href="http://www.planetizen.com/">Planetizen. He is also the Chief
Technology Officer of Urban
Insight, Inc. He can be reached at chavan at planetizen.com.