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So where did all these blogs come from? How did they get from an underground geek toy to a mainstream tool that has revolutionized politics, journalism, marketing and the media?
I always find that when I learn about a new technology or way of doing something online, the geeks have already been there (and I say the word 'geek' with complete affection - I'm one too!). Before business became inseparable from the computer, email or the internet, the academics and tinkerers were there first, kicking the tires and playing with the technology. Blogging was no exception.
Many of the earliest internet geeks wrote online journals detailing interesting links and points of view. As this was before programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver, everything was done by hand - and that was a huge hassle. Each time you updated the site, you ran the risk of breaking links inside the website and leaving your readers stranded with the dreaded 'page not found' error. Eventually, the computer programmers and web designers became fed up with all of this manual work and created their own software to automate the process of updating their journal websites. Thus the weblog was born.
In 1999, a website called Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/) launched, offering free blogs to anybody and everybody that wanted them. Blogger provided the blog tool for free as well as the hosting space to host a blog. Millions of people from all over the world logged on and start creating their own weblogs.
The largest conversation in the world had begun. Blogs have changed the way academics do research, journalists write, families connect and politicians fundraise. It was only a matter of time before businesses woke up and realized the power of blogging for marketing online.
Blogging provides a way for companies and customers to meet on common ground to talk about what excites them and makes them tick. It also allows them to closely track where and under what circumstances their products are being talked about online.
Today, blogging continues to grow at a swift pace with more than 400,000 posts added per day and 12,000 new blogs being created every day. Millions of people look to blogs for a good laugh, a great idea, a fantastic tip or an instant analysis. The blogosphere doubles in size every 5 months, allowing anyone, anywhere, in any language, to make their mark in the world to share their ideas, passion and products.
'Blog' was the word of the year for 2004 according to Merriam-Webster, the famous dictionary publisher. The year 2004 marked a turning point for blogs as a sought after media format. Now it was seen as a venue for gathering large audiences of devoted readers who used blogs to supplement, compliment and fact-check their nightly news.
My favorite milestone for blogging was when 'Blogs' appeared as a category on the Jeopardy game show. I'll take blogging for one thousand, Alex!
Andy Wibbels is a blogging evangelist and creator of the Easy Bake Weblogs seminar that has helped hundreds of small businesses all over the world leverage blogs and RSS news feeds to increase profits and save time. You can download his free special report on business and blogs at http://easybakeweblogs.com/