Good question. It may seem like we're getting a little late to the ball game with this one, but blogging – a contraction of web logging – has really hit the mainstream after several years spreading like wild fire out in left field.
In a nutshell it's the process of publishing an online journal – a cross between a diary, a message-board and a virtual soapbox. Individuals or groups of contributors will update the site regularly to discuss anything from their own lives to issues of world importance. Many will focus on dedicated areas – such as science, technology, current affairs or sport – while others adopt the 'me-journalism' approach.
So it's not just egoists giving it the big 'I AM'...?
Well, there is an element of that of course. But there is a far more serious benefit – a democratisation of the media and the ability to aggregate your news and opinion from those free of any corporate agenda.
Why are you talking about this...?
We think there is room enough for all of us. In fact it is the media who feed a lot of successful blogs. Often the discerning blogger will choose which stories appearing online, from all manner of outlets, he or she wants to include and link to.
In his defining book We The Media: Grassroots journalism by the people, for the people, Dan Gilmore claims the impact of blogs has undermined the control of large media organisations, turning "Big Media's monopoly on the news... from a lecture to a conversation".
A conversation? How so...?
Blogs tend to contain opportunities to post responses. This way the topic is thrown out there and discussed and dissected by all reading the blog. They are far more organic than the publish-and-be-damned days of 'chip wrapper' newspaper companies.
Bloggers can also be quite bold – often there is not the assumption of reputation or even the same fear of libel or ridicule which hangs over major media outlets. Take the case of the US election – bloggers had called the result long before the media dared.
So this is still the domain of 'the little man'?
Big business is having an impact on the mainstreaming of blog culture but there are still some small fish making a lot of waves in a big pond.
I'll excuse you that metaphor. How so?
It's not something they perhaps look on with too much fondness but a number of bloggers have caused major problems for their companies – and subsequently lost their jobs, such as the Waterstone's employee who spilled the beans on all manner of goings-on within the company before picking up his P45. Then there was the case today of the Google blogger whose insight into the Googleplex cost him his job.
Ironically it is often news of such action being taken which alerts people to the blog in ever-increasing numbers, such as the case of Ellen Simonetti, formerly an air hostess for Delta Airlines, who became a cause cél