What is a blog?

The word “blog” came from “weblog” — but not how you might think. Peter Merholz, a blogging pioneer, jokingly broke “weblog” into two words on his web page, “we blog,” and the word “blog” was born.

But what is a blog?

Blogs emerged and grew in popularity in the late 1990’s, due in part to the introduction of easy web-publishing tools. Sites like Open Diary, Blogger, and LiveJournal were followed by advanced content management systems, like WordPress and TypePad. These sites and systems removed knowledge of HTML and FTP as requirements, making website creation — and blogging — more accessible than ever before.

Simply put, blogs started as online diaries where people, usually single individuals, shared their experiences and passions on a regular basis, creating a following of readers. Early bloggers like Dave Winer, Andrew Sullivan, and Jenny Lawson helped pave the way for the tens of millions of bloggers that soon followed.

blog imagery - man computer table camera notebook

As the popularity of blogging grew, so did the popularity of bloggers. Marketers saw blogging as a way to create unique content and a means to connect and interact with customers online, while individual bloggers saw it as a way to make money through advertising, marketing, and selling products and services online. Today, some of the highest traffic sites are blogs, like The Huffington Post.

But that brings us back to our original question: what is a blog? Blogs are typically made up of a series of regular entries, called “posts,” which are displayed in reverse chronological order, from newest to oldest. A post, as opposed to a web page, is dynamic — a site’s blog will always be changing as the author publishes new content, on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. They combine text with multimedia and links to other blogs, and often allow for two-way interaction with readers through comments and feedback.

Blogs can be about absolutely anything at all — from fashion, news, or comedy to niche interests and subcultures. They can be individually written or developed by a multi-authored team. They can be for fun and enjoyment. They can be something published just for personal fulfillment, or a means to make money (or both!). Blogs can be a simple web page or a comprehensive site utilizing the many blogging tools available today to grow and manage online communities.

In short, a blog is anything a blogger wants it to be — from a place to express yourself to the world to a place where people and corporations can share thoughts with hundreds, thousands and sometimes millions of readers, to promote themselves, or a business, or a cause.