The incredible expansion and prevalence of Web logs (aka blogs) was one of the compelling story lines of the first decade of the twentieth century. Consider that in 1994 there were very few blogs, that in 1999 the word blog was starting to come into currency in popular culture, and that, by the beginning of 2008, Technorati, a popular blog search engine, was tracking over 112 million blogs!
While growing in number, blogs also grew in importance, with bloggers acting as a media outlet (in bringing down Senate majority leader Trent Lott in 2002) and as a media check (in uncovering as forgeries documents critical of George Bush’s service with the National Guard in 2004). In 2006, the power of blogs to drive debate and give voice to many was one of the reasons Time magazine’s person of the year was “you” (to the many people, presumably the reader included, who blog or participate in creating the information on the World Wide Web).
When it comes to publishing on the blogosphere, open source content management systems dominate, with WordPress’s open source blog application leading the way. WordPress is featured on 78 percent of Web sites with blog applications, far and away the leader in blog publishing in this category. Joomla! and Drupal are also popular choices for blogging, with blogs published within their larger CMSs.
Blogs usually follow a familiar format with entries posted in reverse-chronological order (most recent first). Timestamps on blogs allow viewers to know exactly what time blog entries were published, and categories help to organize a blogger’s entries. The ability of readers to post comments is also a key feature of most blogs, allowing for ongoing discussions between bloggers and their readers.
Most CMSs have various features that bloggers can use to make their blogs fit their preferences. Themes allow bloggers to change the look and template of their blogs, widgets help add useful features (like an RSS feed, a search function, and a calendar of entries), and plug-ins allow bloggers to install and activate features like spam control.