Short for Weblog. An online journal and forum for commentary that doubles as a public discussion board. Blogs have rapidly gained popularity, particularly as a means of political and social commentary and activism and of marketing one’s talents online—a replacement for old-fashioned paper resumes. Blogs are often designed with space for immediate reader feedback. Moreover, software such as Serious Magic Inc.’s new Vlog IT! allows people to use video clips to enhance their blog’s content, which has resulted in a new term, vlogs.
In December 2004, approximately one year after the term blog was placed in The Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster said that it was the most frequently searched word on the dictionary’s Website. Although knowing the real prevalence of blogs is nearly impossible, two surverys conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project at the end of 2004 found that eight million users in the United States had created blogs, and that blog readership increased by 58% in 2004 to encompass 27% of U.S. Internet users. In marketing terms, the more risky “early adopters” of technology appear to be the most enthusiastic users of blogs. Even movies, such as the 2005 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Buena Vista Pictures, are marketed through blogs.
Considering their recent entry into the mainstream vocabulary, blogs have already created controversy in the news. In the United States, criticism emanating from bloggers ultimately forced CBS News to retract a controversial story about President George W. Bush’s time served in the Texas Air National Guard. By the controversy’s end, several people, including long-time news anchor Dan Rather, resigned from the respected network.
Hoping to reap a business gain and an increased market share from the growing popularity of blogs, in February 2005, the Internet search firm Ask Jeeves Inc. of Emeryville, California, purchased an upstart Silicon Valley blogging company known as Trustic Inc. for an undisclosed amount of money. Trustic Inc. is the owner and operator of Bloglines, whose function is to index blogs along with other live online content. It performs this function not only in English but also in six other languages. The service provided by Trustic Inc. appears to be a driver behind blogs’ popularity, for it gathers new material filed by millions of bloggers and lets users search and read it without having to download any software on their computers.
Though blogs seem to be growing in popularity, there are reported business downsides to blogging. According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey conducted on 279 human resource professionals in the United States, about 3% of employees updating blogs at work were disciplined. Moreover, the popularity of vlogs has already had an adverse impact on one business in the United States. Bicycle lock maker Kryptonite Corporation experienced a public relations nightmare after a New York blogger named Benjamin Running posted a vlog illustrating that the company’s u-shaped lock could be picked with just a ballpoint pen. The vlog was apparently downloaded by more than half a million people in just four days, resulting in the company’s having to fill millions of product exchanges.
Avery, S. Internet Search Firm Ask Jeeves Turns to Bloggers to Boost Traffic. The Globe and Mail, February 9, 2005, p. B3; Buena Vista Pictures. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [Online, May 15, 2005.] Buena Vista Pictures Website. http://hitchhikers.movies.go .com/hitchblog/blog.htm; Everatt, L. A Mind-Blogging Foray into a CEO’s Web Diary. The Globe and Mail, September 15, 2004, p. C9; In Brief. Blogging At Work Can Lead to Being Disciplined. The Globe and Mail, February 9, 2005, p. C8; Spector, N. Canadian Bloggers Have No One to Blame but Themselves. The Globe and Mail, March 7, 2005, p. A15; Wegert, T. Bloggers Get in Touch With Inner Spielbergs. The Globe and Mail, March 10, 2005, p. B10.