Web Words Explained: Blogs/Microblogging

Web Words Explained: Blogs/Microblogging

Whether some web terms confuse you, or you just want to know more about how certain tech terms came to be, Web Words Explained is here to help. We've previously covered content management systems (CMS), and search engine optimization (SEO), so today we'll talk about blogs, microblogs, and tumblogs. There are just so many types of blogging that have developed over the past decade that it's best to start this story from the beginning:

Weblogs to Blogs
The basics of blogs and blogging are pretty well known at this point, but let’s get a brief overview of blog history first. As you probably know, the word “blog” was derived from the term “web log”. According to internet legend, Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College, created the first blog (and oh-so aesthetically pleasing) Links.net, in 1994. Around 1997 the word “weblog” came into use and was attributed to Robot Wisdom author Jorn Barger, but it was quickly supplanted and shortened to “blog” around 1999 by Peter Merholz of Peterme.com. Evan Williams of Pyra Labs followed up by using the term to describe online journals later that year. If you're interested in learning more about blogger history, Blogworld actually has a great timeline of blog history, ranging from the humble beginnings of Livejournal in 1999, and ending with the launch of Google+ last year. Of course, by the 2000s, blogging was booming, and it wasn’t long before the great and mighty “blogosphere” came into being.

The Blogosphere
The blogosphere, if you're unfamiliar with the term, is the wonderful network of blogs and the constant content creation that helps websites maintain interactivity and audience engagement. The “blogosphere” was supposedly derived from the word “logosphere” that refers to the world of information available in the age of modern technological communication. Logosphere itself was derived from the Greek terms logos, meaning word, and “sphere”, meaning universe. If you’re looking for a great blogger timeline, check out "The Early Years", New York magazine’s rundown describing the rapid expansion of blogging up to 2006. Mashable also came out with a colorful Twitter infographic detailing the world events that were supported by Twitter, as well as the spread of world news that was accelerated by the social site.

While New York magazine’s blogging timeline stops at 2006, you can bet your cable bundles that rapid expansion of blogs didn’t stop there. In fact, a new form of blogging was about to emerge. In March 2006, Jack Dorsey, also founder of Square Inc., created and later launched Twitter.com. According to Technology Review, this spawned an entire microblogging ecosystem (and a slew of awkwardly spelled site names). Microblogging is defined by Answers.com as “the posting of very short entries or updates on a blog or social networking site, typically via a cell phone”. As mobile usage increased, Twitter was built to match, featuring a 140 character, SMS-based text limit for each post, including each user's profile bio. However, there is a lot more to microblogging than just posting to Twitter. Facebook's status update feature was popular before Twitter gained traction, and Tumblr made photo blogging, or Tumblogging, popular shortly after. Check out this timeline from Technology Review's "A Brief History of Microblogging" to see the many associated sites, precursors, and Twitter spin-offs.

Blogger Vocab to Know
If you're entirely new to blogging, here are some terms that you will need to know. If you're looking for a term that isn't on this list, check out our recent post, 5 Great Resources for Translating Web Jargon:

  1. Blogroll – The list of blogs most recommended by a blogger. These will usually be in the form of a list of links to the blogs of choice.
  2. Crowdsourcing - This involves outsourcing a variety of tasks to a range of people to create a whole product. Blog posts are often crowdsourced to many knowledgeable writers in order to increase the amount and diversity of content.
  3. Microblog - A blog post consisting of a smaller amount of content than a traditional blog post. Can include SMS messages in feed format, or picture posts.
  4. RSS – Stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a type of web feed used to allow readers to aggregate and follow blogs posts, articles, and podcasts.
  5. Tag – An index term assigned to a piece of information. In Twitter tags are labeled with a pound symbol, #, before the term being tagged.
  6. Tumblog - A blog post made using Tumblr.com. These primarily consist of images and photos with short descriptions, if there is any textual content at all.
  7. Vlog – A video blog.
  8. WYSIWYG – Short for What You See Is What You Get; and is a type of editor in the form of a tool bar that allows users to easily apply formatting to content without resorting to coding.

Do you have more interesting facts and history about blogging? Tell us all about it in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook!

Photo Credit: Vee-Vee