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Blog, Blog, Blog All the Way to Nirvana by Dr D.C.Misra

By dcmisra ·
Blog, Blog, Blog All the Way to Nirvana:
A Tribute to the Word of Year 2004
Dr D.C.Misra*

The blog, short for weblog, has done wonders in the past year and continues to do so in the first few days of the new year. In the Asian Tsunami devastation of December 26, 2004, it has been one of the ?angels of deliverance.? A blog set up in Mumbai, tsunamihelp that, after some time, had 50 contributors and 100,000 visitors, logged a million visitors by January 4. It did and continues to do excellent work, setting in the process a model for official websites to emulate in disaster mitigation and relief work.

Born in 1999, some 12,000 blogs are created every day, and 275,000 postings are made every day or about 10,800 blog updates an hour. A new blog is born every 7.4 seconds. It is Merriam Webster online which declared its year of birth as well as the word of year 2004, having been searched most on its website. It defines the word, noting its year of birth in parentheses, as: "noun [short for Weblog] (1999): a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer."

Despite attempts at precise definitions by the lexicographers, there is no ?precise? definition of blogs. A blog is not a personal diary nor a journal, nor a home page nor indeed even a discussion group. Yet it can be all these things taken together or even only a few of these things taken together. There are thus as many definitions of blog as is the number of bloggers. Similarly, blogosphere, the universe of blogs, has no limitation on the subject it can cover - any thing in cyber space falls within its domain.

Who are then these bloggers? An online survey by Viegas, who tracks the blogs at the MIT, shows that a good 36 per cent of the bloggers are female, 63 percent male, and three-fourths of them are in the age group of 21-40 years and 11 percent of them below 20 years. The US, of course, leads the pack of bloggers with 67 percent of bloggers worldwide being Americans. A Pew Internet survey shows that 17 per cent of American adults online read some one else?s blogs while 5 per cent of them set up their own blogs.

Like any other new phenomenon, blogs have spawned their own terminology. Words like alpha bloggers or A-listers (the elite bloggers who decide blogging contours), date headers and time stamps (recording date and time of post), blogrolls (a list of blogs read by a blogger regularly), permalinks (a reference to a specific post in a blog), comments (by readers), trackbacks (automatic links between blogs) and vblogs (video blogs) are being freely bandied about much to the chagrin of non-techies. But it is the non-techies for whom the blogging software was developed in the first place. Their tryst with the web hosting started when they ventured into setting up their own ?home pages? on sites that provided free hosting. Technology has played a key role in the explosive growth of blogs. A number of blog authoring tools are now available.

Though the battle for the eyeballs in the cyber space continues, the traffic drawn by the blogs is eye boggling. There are, for example, 200 blogs, which have a monthly traffic of one million page views and 20 with 10 million page views per month. Small wonder, then, blogs are a giving tough fight to existing well-established media websites and scoring stunning victories to boot. Some of the blogs, for example, have become more popular than some of the big media portals.

Recognition in the age of Internet has come to blog at e-speed. For example, the New York-based 500-members-strong International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which presents the Webby Awards, called Oscars of the Internet, has also included ?blog? as one the categories for the first time in 2004 for the Webby Awards, established in 1996, which predate the Academy, established 1998.

The bloggers also claim to have a manifesto. Veteran Silicon Valley journalist Dan Gillmor, who has covered "the bubble, boom, bust and continuing evolution of the tech industry for over a decade," has come out with the manifesto, ?We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People.? Bloggers, indeed, have unwittingly attacked the traditional big media journalism by becoming readers turned reporters and editors- reporting, making and editing news.

In the process, bloggers have scored some stunning successes. For example, as reported by Steven Levy in the Newsweek, Slashdot: News for Nerds has more links (9,244) than guardian.co.uk (8,505 links) or Plastic: Act Like Nothing's Wrong (8,324 links) has more links than wired.com (7,197 links) or Davenetics has more (7,590) links than salon.com (6,166 links) or Boing Boing has more (5,692) links than slate.com (5,05 links), and Instapundit has more (5,170) links than slate.com (5,051 links).

Success of bloggers in the political arena has been equally remarkable. For example, one of the most telling accounts of the Iraq war came from the Baghdad Blogger, a blogger whose identity was not known at that time but who later on turned out to be a 29-year-old architect in Baghdad. Similarly a posting on Powerlineblog titled "61st minute," claimed to be probably the "most famous post in the young history of blogosphere," led to challenging a network news legend in the U.S. and won. Also, bloggers went to Parliament in England to convince politicians that they should take up their blogging tools to forge closer links with their electorate.

How much popular are these blogs in terms of average daily traffic? Cheese and Crackers (450,607 visits/day), set up only in early December last year by a 21-year old conservative political science undergraduate student living in Massachusetts has, due to Asian Tsunami disaster become No.1 blog as a number videos of Asian Tsunami disaster were posted on it. The second slot is occupied by Daily Kos (213,528 visits/day) dealing with U.S.political scene, third by Instapundit.com (128,209 visits/day) set up by a law professor, fourth by Gizmodo (93,883 visits/day), a blog dealing with gadgets and fifth by Gawker (84,571 visits/day). What is thus remarkable about these blogs is the huge traffic they are drawing, some of them even posing a serious challenge to the established media.

English, according to the blogcensus.net, is the dominant language of the blogosphere with 12,86,508 blogs. The distant runners-up include French (87,506), Portuguese (81,077), Farsi (64,049), Polish (42,754), German (35,149), Spanish (26,389), Italian (10,402), Dutch (9,826), and Chinese-big5 (8,986). Indian languages will also find prominent place in the blogosphere once the Internet penetration accelerates in India.The message from blogosphere for the year 2005 is thus loud and clear: You blog, I blog, every one blogs. Let us blog all the way, to whatever makes us happy, to Nirvana, the state of perfect happiness.
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*New Delhi, India. Dr Misra moderates the Cyber Quiz group at Yahoo! at http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/cyberquiz/ and also maintains a blog on Cyber Quiz at http://cyberquiz.blogspot.com/. Email: dcmisra@gmail.com.(5.1.2005)

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