Geek Trivia: Blogito, ergo sum

Who generally receives credit for coining the term 'weblog?'

Here's another entry for the "I Had No Idea There Was a Holiday For That" file: June 14 is International Weblogger's Day, set aside to commemorate and celebrate the democratization of Web publishing to allow any and every average schmoe to disseminate his most banal interests and accomplishments to the entire online world.

For the sake of first principle, let's take a look at Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary definition of the term blog: "A Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer."

So, contrary to what Blogger, LiveJournal, Xanga, WordPress, and a dozen or so other software programs would have you believe, the definition of a blog comes from its content, not its platform. And people have been posting personal journals, reflections, and comments to their Web sites since there have been Web sites -- and maybe even before then.

This is where we admit that almost nobody knows -- or at least can agree on -- when and where the first blog appeared. One candidate is Brian E Redman's personal Usenet newsgroup, mod.ber, which operated for a few months in 1983 and 1984. While its content and format were remarkably similar to a blog, it predated the World Wide Web. Call it an ancestor, if not an originator, of blogging.

When the Web finally showed up in all its hyperlinked glory, manually updated Web pages sporting personalized content started to appear as well. If you were willing to put forth the effort, you could publish an online diary to a Web page, though you'd be coding the page by hand. (And, for those of us who remember those days of the Web, often it showed.)

The birth of the term blog, however, came much later. Most folks were content to call online diaries just that, though some described themselves as escribitionists. Even Web sites that weren't exclusively journals often contained a What's New section that offered at least marginally blog-like content.

The beginnings of the term blog, however, come from the slightly older term weblog, which itself was a contraction of the phrase Web log. The word weblog, at least, has a generally accepted etymology, birth date, and credited originator.


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