I'll be bloggered!
A web log (or blog) is an online journal or diary that usually includes elements such as graphics and web links. They range from teenagers complaining that their Mum keeps nagging them about tidying their room to slick cyberlebrities promoting their gorgeous, gorgeous lives.
The very best blogs (and they'd be horrified if you called them blogs) are online journals made by web-savvy adults who use them as a way to market themselves as a product in this celebrity-obsessed world. Readers want to feel they "know" their heroes, and the online journal is the best way to give the fans that impression. Personally, I think it's just fuelling the creepy-stalker problem, so I avoid it - an "About Me" on one of my popular sites is about as much privacy as I'm willing to give up.
At the other end of the scale are the massive-scale blog sites aimed specifically at the teenager market. They're like a huge, communal "Dear Diary", filled with stuff that you'd be surprised if their best friend even wants to know. Virtual landfill, although a good way for tormented teens to get things off their chest. These ones usually include Emoticons - annoying little animated gifs that tell you how they're currently feeling (since they're probably not articulate and literate enough to put that into words themself). You can link to your "friends" and create your own little online club to give you a sense of belonging, a feeling that someone cares that you have a little sad-face on your Blog today because you've just heard there won't be another season of Buffy. I guess Virtual friends are a step up from Imaginary ones.
(note to self: I really should get that cynicism looked at)
Here are a few suggested online blogs. Some of these may be blocked at college, but you can probably get to them from home. Hey, you're all over 18 so I figure you can make decisions about what's acceptable for yourself.
loobylu.com - cool aussie illustrator chick with a crafty- orientated blog.
troubled-diva.com - wit, musings and obscure mp3s from a very cultured london gay-man-about-town.
www.zeldman.com/glamorous/ - this guy's obsessed with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) so I'm not a huge fan, but his blog's well done.
www.femmerotic.com/journal.html - avoid this one if you're offended by naked people and stuff, as this is run by one of the world's best advocates for ethical erotica. She also wins mainstream awards for her online journal, hence including her here.
pages.interlog.com/~illusion/blog/ - often the best blogs are the ones run by web developers, which is no surprise.
www.stephaniedale.co.uk/blog/ - as she says, this blog is in fact better than (many) udders. It's sort of a compromise between a "grown-up" journal and the "emoticons-explain-me" teen-oriented blog.
www.7nights.com/asterisk/ - another web developer's own blog. I loved the "pretentious tagline goes here" tagline.
www.kottke.org - this is what a graphics-hating web-usability-expert's blog looks like! Hey, but the guy gives away a good free font.
www.deadjournal.com/users/chillywilly420/ - hilariously self-obsessed whinging teen angst. There's a lot of this sort of thing on blogs (example from "Random user" function)
www.greatestjournal.com/users/jimmy_v/ - this guy promotes his band on his blog. Perhaps his fans like to read about his fascinating life. (example from "Random user" function)
www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=misterdonut - Xanga's one of the biggest Blog sites, and here's the blogger-of-the-day, Mister Donut.
geekosupremo.blogspot.com/ - Blogspot.com, also known as Blogger.com is another huge blogging site. (example from "Random user" function)
I also found this really interesting blog about blogging. Specifically, about accessiblity standards in designing Web logs:
And here's a more academic analysis of blogging than my lame attempts to explain the phenomenon:
If you're looking for some more blogs to compare in terms of design, try googling for searches like "blog web designer" or "personal journal web designer" and the like (You have to design a blog, so the best ones to look at are personally-designed ones and hey, web designers tend to do that).
As I insisted when you started in this course, the best way to be a good web developer is to be a skilled, observant and well-informed web user. Surf, my children! Surf and learn!
Oh, here are some more blogs, some from students' reviews, some I've just stumbled upon and found interesting (although I still have no desire to know about strangers' personal lives!):
UPDATE AUGUST 2005
After wathcing Jon Stewart's Daily Show and seeing the journalist for Wired's article in this month's edition entitled "The Blogs of War", my impression of blogging has been much improved. Little would I have guessed that it would evolve into such a powerful force for change within the US military. See article:
meow & ciao,
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