It’s not everyday that a web phenomena becomes large enough to graduate into a word used in every day language and even included in the dictionary. It seems as though the Internet ‘blogging’ trend has become truly pervasive in the very fabric of the Internet. In a real life situation, one might even make a comment – ”I’m so going to blog this!”. Of course, this would be generally accepted without anyone else wondering what the person was referring to.
‘Blogging’ is a verb which refers to the activity of maintaining a type of Internet site called a ‘weblog’, or ‘blog’ for short. Like a ‘web log’ would suggest, a blog is a type of journal that anyone can create and write in. It can be personal and individual, designed for business or for a family, used for updates on an online project, or to comment on a specific subject such as politics. Technical blogs as an example, offer updates and opinions on matters in the computer world and are particularly popular.
The general popularity of blogs stems from the fact that everyone can sign up for one, and they can be as complicated or as simple as one requires. An individual can fill out a short form and start posting, though some other blogging services require an installation on a web host. This article will cover some of the basic blogging sites and software used, and show the strengths of each one and discuss the specific audience each servers.
Blogger.com offers an easy to use blogging platform allowing newer users to start their own blog easily. It integrates with Google, so those that have use Gmail or have an account with any service with Google can simply login and get started. Blogger.com offers a single user system, which means that only one person may write entries, though anyone still may comment. For more experienced and technical users, it offers tools to customize the look and feel of the blog. Blogger is in general more oriented toward new users as it offers a simple "sign in and go" approach so one can get started blogging right away.
WordPress is unique in the fact that it offers a hosted and non-hosted solution. WordPress.com is the hosted solution, meaning like Blogger.com, all that needs to be done is to fill out a simple form and login with your username and password. WordPress.org, in comparison, offers the actual WordPress software that can be installed on its own web space. Though a manual is provided that includes installation instructions, a bit more specialized knowledge regarding SQL databases and script installation is needed. The non-hosted .org solution offers more customization options, including code addons that can be downloaded that add new features and additional themes or styles that can be installed to change the look of your blog.
WordPress is used in some instances to actually create and run an entire website due to it’s versatility. This is because multiple pages can be added to the blog, so you could have an ‘About Me’ section, or other information sections related to your blog that don’t have to include your blog entries. WordPress also offers import features, which allows you to load your entries from an existing blog or journal site such as Blogger or LiveJournal.
Another highly useful feature that WordPress offers is multiple blogs and multiple authors. Multiple users can be set up all with their own blog. Even if a group of people want to share a single blog and all submit entries, WordPress is also capable of doing this. WordPress is geared towards all experience levels and can be used by both new bloggers and those who wish to have greater customization options. It can be as complicated as multiple blogs and multiple users, customized themes, and downloaded feature addons. On the other hand, one can simply sign up for a blog and start posting.
Xanga and LiveJournal
Xanga and LiveJournal provide a slightly different approach to blogging. They aren’t so much for blogging in a professional capacity, but are more used to provide personal journals in conjunction with social networking sites (like MySpace). Friends can easily add each other to each other’s friends list and receive email updates whenever a friend posts a new entry. Friends are listed on the sidebar of the blog, and can comment on each other’s blogs.
Xanga/LiveJournal are also good for new users, as they also offer a "sign up and go" approach to blogging. The social networking aspect can be especially useful if a large group of friends currently uses the site, or if the social networking aspect seems appealing.
Users who wish to have more extensive support for multiple users may wish to consider MovableType. MovableType is more oriented towards business-class users and power users. Users who just wish to set up a single, simple, personal blog may find MovableType is a bit too daunting for them with all of the included features and gadgets. However, organizations who need multiple blogs for different workgroups, projects, or employees will find MovableType excels in this area.. A blog administrator can add users and set permissions for these users so they can edit or post to a single blog, multiple blogs, or all blogs. It also offers many other permissions that can be set to restrict what users can or can’t do. Users can also be sorted into groups and have permissions set on the group level. For example, a ‘Project Team A’, a ‘Project Team B’, and a ‘Project Review Team’ could be setup. The Project Team A members could only post in their blog, the B’s only in their blog, but the Review Team could post or edit either blog. It’s exactly this kind of functionality that makes it more oriented towards groups and commercial organizations.
Blogs are great tools which can be used for many different things in many different applications. Choosing one that’s right for every situation is a daunting process, especially with all of the options in software. Once the software is chosen and the blog setup, it can be an extremely rewarding experience once the blog starts to gain a steady group of readers. Sharing information and insight across the world could be just a few clicks away.
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