Blogging is often misunderstood. While some individuals use blogs and their capabilities to become what amounts to journalists, whose influence either augments or contradicts traditional news media, entrepreneurs can use blogs for their own purposes. Activities may include interactively engaging with customers and building user communities, or providing messages using mediums such as video demonstrations which have heretofore only been available to advertisers with much bigger budgets.
To users blogs are like many other technologies; one sees the "shiny outside," but not "under the hood." As such, within the literature at large scholarly attention has been typically associated with aspects of media and journalism, socio-cultural analyses, and the literature of communications. Scholarly research on blogging or the "blogosphere" in the discipline of entrepreneurs hip is limited, despite the fact that the software that makes blogs work is designed for the primary purpose of allowing non-programmers to communicate any message they want to a world-wide audience, on the Web, and therefore blogs can be a powerful marketing tool for small businesses.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has conducted an ongoing series of research projects and published reports on Internet usage. In a summary memorandum released in January 2005 it was stated that "62% of internet users do not know what a blog is" (Rainie, 2005). However, as this paper will discuss: that landscape has changed significantly over the years with an explosive growth in the number of blogs, bloggers, and users. Perhaps the relevance to small business and entrepreneurship scholars can be suggested by a quote in Entrepreneur magazine that stated "[blogging has] gone beyond fad to become a full-fledged Internet phenomenon" (Kooser, 2002). Blogging has been further characterized as a "paradigm shift of how we disseminate and communicate" (Cunningham, 2005). "[Blogs] can be started with very little, and very inexpensive, editorial content yet are capable of exerting extraordinary influence" (Madden, 2005).
Early blogs, also called Web logs, or by the shortened term, "weblogs" were primarily used as online diaries for sharing content and commentary of a personal nature (Blog, 2010). In keeping with the social impact and immense sphere of influence that has developed in connection with blogs and blogging, the term "blogosphere," has arisen, defined as a "collective term encompassing all weblogs or blogs as a community or social network"(Blogosphere, 201 1; Sobel, 2010). As observed by Madden (2005) an MIT Technology Review article: "Several factors have contributed to the emergence of blogs. . ..Blogging software is inexpensive - or often free - and easy to use. Low bandwidth requirements and Web-hosting fees keep the ongoing infrastructure costs of maintaining a blog very low" (p. 36).
Because bandwidth and access continues to increase, and technologies such as "Flip" video cameras and smartphones (Barbierri, 2010; Smartphone Futures, 2010) have arisen (providing instant connectivity for uploads) blogs can now enable any individual, or small business to leverage what amounts to a publishing (broadcasting, etc.) platform.
Most present day blogs have begun to supersede mere text and photos and many incorporate richer media including audio, video, and screencasts (Udell, 2005) as part of their content. Scholarly research on blogging or the "blogosphere" in the discipline of entrepreneurship is limited, despite the fact that the software that makes blogs work is designed for the primary purpose of allowing non-programmers an easy-to-use (Chung, Eunseong, Trammell, & Porter, 2007) means to communicate any message they want to a world-wide audience, on the Web, and therefore blogs can be a powerful marketing tool for small businesses.
REVIEW OF EXISTING LITERATURE ON BLOGGING
After a series of searches in the scholarly literature using library databases it was revealed that the topic of the "entrepreneurial blogosphere" has received little attention from academic researchers within the discipline of entrepreneurship. …