"I blog therefore I am." If Hamlet were around today his famous soliloquy might have gone a bit differently. Millions of people in American blog (Okay, so Hamlet was Danish. But I digress.) At the most basic level a blog is a web log. Web + log = blog. Easy enough right?
Blogs are simple, effective journaling tools. The main page is a list of entries in reverse-chronological order. Some blogs focus on one subject, others are stream-of-consciousness journals. Usually the author will throw in some interesting links or pictures. Most blogs let readers comment on entries. Popular clients include Blogger, Livejournal, Deadjournal, Diaryland, and Greatestjournal.
While today many people use blogs for personal writing, they originated as a quick way to pass news along. People were thrilled that news could be posted as it happened. As the media was getting more and more controlled post-9/11, blogs were a promising communication medium. Blogs are still used for news purposes, such as on Google News. The confessional aspect, however, comes into play when people use blogs or online journals for their own writing. People tell about their jobs, their medical problems, their pet cats—anything that comes to mind. Through the mundane details of day to day, a reader can find some interesting tidbits about the lives of others. Online journals also give users a chance to join communities based on common interest. A current site receiving a lot of traffic is Retail Is Hell.
Other sites offer a less amusing type of community. Many men and women who suffer from alcoholism or eating disorders find support groups online. Alcoholics Anonymous make use of online journaling and other community functions to help their members. Online has become a haven for victims of abuse and disorders. The anonymity allows complete confession—they don’t have to worry they’ll run into a group member at the local supermarket. As Web denizens become more and more community oriented, confession is going to increase. It is too soon to see for sure what the effect on American society will be. As more and more Americans keep blogs and online journals, how will advertisers adjust? Can movies be made out of blogs? Can a career be made out of blogging? As the Internet expands and network services become cheaper, it will be every blogger for herself.