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A Brief History of Blogging

by Scott Chow | October 14, 2018

The history of weblogs is often coalesced with the origins of blogs or blogging. What we know as blogs or blogging today is not the same as the original weblog. The first ever weblog was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is also the inventor of World Wide Web. The World Wide Web should not be confused with the internet, formerly known as the galactic network. The internet predates the creation of the global web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He coined the term in the early nineties. The internet was already nearly a decade old by then. Intranet and other forms of exclusive external networks were developed in the sixties.

The first ever website was created by Sir Berners-Lee when he was at the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN. This website was basically a list of new websites. The term weblog literally meant a log of the web. The first weblogs were not content driven. They were not online journals or digital versions of the traditional diary. Weblogs did lead to the evolution of blogs and blogging by the late nineties. This is when the clear distinction arose and later became more prominent as we shall explore here.

The First Weblogs

Many weblogs were created through much of the first half of the nineties. Most of them are nonexistent today and hence you would not find them. The weblogs were also not widely known because internet itself was not commonly used and the global web was still in its nascent stages. Most weblogs of the era listed links to websites. NCSA, the company that developed a browser called Mosaic, followed the initiative of Berners-Lee and came up with its own legacy of web logging. Mosaic popularized the internet and the global web in the nineties. The weblog What’s New created by NCSA eventually became the oldest archive of websites, kind of like a directory of links to different sites hosted on the web. This may be deemed as a precursor to the modern search engines like Google and Bing among others, except for the fact that they were mostly lists and not exactly content driven databases.

Gradually, weblogs lead to the evolution of blogs. The lists that only contained links to websites started having commentary. Essays and personal thoughts got added in due course of time. There were many weblogs like What’s New of Mosaic. These types of indexing sites or logs were available online but they were not accessed by common people. This was primarily owing to the technical unawareness. In the nineties, weblogs and online publishing was only accessible to those who knew how to code. It was not as simple as writing something and then pressing a button to submit the content and then hosting it on a webpage using a server that you pay a monthly fee for. People had to own servers, they needed to code to submit anything and effectively create a website.

The Transformation of Weblogs

The first major transformation of weblogs happened when Justin Hall created a website in 1994. Still a student back then, he named the website Justin’s Links from the Underground. This is widely believed to be the first ever personal weblog, the closest predecessor to what we know as a blog today. Justin Hall created the website to publish his personal musings and discoveries as he explored the internet and global web. He also wrote about himself, his family, his relationships and his emotions. He opened the website for commentary from his readers or internet users. This paved the way for the modern forums and online communities. This weblog was operated by Justin Hall for eleven years since its inception.

The Blogging Boom

The practice of web logging boomed in 1999 at the height of the dot com bubble. Pitas.com came up with a tool that enabled internet users to create their own blogs. This helped those who did not know coding or any programming language to create blogs and find a presence online. The availability of this tool made web logging a nearly global rage. People could sign up or register for free, choose a template and use a form to update the blog. Pitas did all the technical work. Blogger, which is today more popular than Pitas, was created in 1999. It was developed by Pyra Labs. Both these platforms empowered students, internet or web enthusiasts, writers and journalists as well as others from various professions to explore a completely new realm.

Weblogs simply granted everyone the right and ability to publish. As early as 2000, people who did not have any way to reach out to the world or a large audience had a simple solution and they could publish, share, connect, communicate and flourish with their unique voices. This was an unprecedented revolution that eventually transformed every industry and the lives of most people on the planet. It did not take much time before celebrities, politicians, institutions and media started using weblogs.

Interesting Facts about Weblogs

There are more than a hundred and fifty million blogs today. According to many estimates, at least one new blog is added or created every second. More than thirty two million people in America read multiple blogs a week. Weblogs are no longer directories or lists of links to websites. There are personal and professional blogs, dedicated blogs for news, hobbies, health, parenting, dating, specific businesses, social and cultural issues, finance and everything you can think of.

While Berners-Lee created the first weblog, Justin Hall created the earliest version of personal blog and Jorn Barger coined the term weblog. The term blog is credited to Peter Merholz, who had simply broken down the term weblog into we blog in 1999. The most popular open source content management system and website builder in the world right now, WordPress, was created in 2003. The program was available before that but not many people known about this. It was then called Café Log, which was basically a weblog with around two thousand blogs.

Since that time WordPress has grown and adapted to become more user friendly. It is now relatively easy to start your own blog or website using WordPress. My tutorial on starting a blog takes all the guesswork out of the equation for new bloggers.

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