“That's nice,” I can hear you say, “but what does that have to do with me?” Well, frankly, either very little or very much, depending on your point of view. A famous American writer, A J Liebling, once said, “Freedom of the press belongs to him who owns one.”
But Liebling wrote in an age when publishing involved great expense and many hassles in distribution. Today, anyone with a computer, software and printer can produce very professional-looking documents; email and web sites can spread information globally in seconds.
The blog, then, is an extension of the digital publishing revolution. Because I blog, I can have as much freedom of expression as a writer for The Australian—although my readership is far lower than that of the newspaper. But this is crucial: one could get as many readers as the periodical (or even more), because the Internet is a communications medium with no boundaries.
This means that blogs can be very specific and “narrow.” I read one about a person in Michigan, USA, whose children participate in a Lego League, in which competitors use toy blocks to construct projects that are, in turn, judged for quality and inventiveness.
They can be as broad as the blog of America's famed Christianity Today magazine, a near-daily rundown of news that is of interest to Christians, primarily in North America, but also globally. The citations are generally links to other articles in the news media, with some commentary about the subject at hand.
Similarly, GetReligion is a blog devoted to the way the media (mostly US, but some global outlets) treat the subject of religion. It's written by three Christian journalists (Terry Mattingly, Doug LeBlanc and Jeremy Lott), and it offers a refreshing, candid and often humorous perspective.
My friend Dawn Eden Goldstein, who, like this writer, is a Jewish-born believer in Jesus, takes a very conservative view of abortion, teen sex education and other life issues in her Dawn Patrol blog, interspersed with comments about her work, her life as a single seeking to be chaste, and even her interest in 1960s pop music (she was the last reporter to interview Del Shannon), for example. Her writing is crisp, her headlines are among the best I've seen, and her insights are worth reading—whether or not you agree.
Blogs can be used to describe and discuss temporary projects. A Journey of Discovery chronicles a trip to Asia by Jon Wood of Pacific Union College, in Angwin, California. It's a very personal account, as is his Jesus for India with entries showing the aftermath of the tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004.
By now you probably can get the idea: a blog is a personal diary/commentary that can contain links to outside resources, and perhaps comments on some of those resources.
Bloggers link to other bloggers whom they like and agree (and even disagree) with. Readers can find a range of opinions and insights in blogs. And, as noted in several media articles such as one in World magazine, a Christian-oriented newsweekly, blogs are interactive and allow readers to “speak back” via comments posted online.
Such blogs were used to ferret out the truth of an American TV news program that broadcast untrue information about a presidential candidate; other blogs revealed the identity and mixed background of a conservative White House reporter, who subsequently quit his job and pulled down his web site. Either way, blogs are a wave of the future, a fresh new medium and, perhaps, might be worth your investigation.
*Mark Kellner is the computer columnist for The Washington Times and has his own blog: http://kellneronline.blogspot.com