Blogs: My New Addiction

By Bates, Mary Ellen | Online, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

Blogs: My New Addiction


Bates, Mary Ellen, Online


When I give talks about information overload, one of the biggest culprits I name is the Weblog. Ira busy e-mail discussion list is like snorting coke, getting started on blogs means you've started mainlining the hard stuff. For example, I urge you not to read Kevin Kelly's Recomendo [www. kk.org/recomendo/], or BoingBoing.net, or JetCityOrange.com. And let's not even talk about ResourceShelf.com, TheShiftedLibrarian.com, or ResearchBuzz.com. Nope, I'm not hooked ... I can quit any time I want.

I remember discovering Weblogs back in 1999. "Hmmm," I thought. "Just like the early days of Web pages. Why do I care to read someone's list of favorite movies or thoughts about their date last night?" I'm an early adopter but I don't suffer fools, so I filed the idea of blogs away as an idea whose time had not yet come.

Fast-forward to 2003. I'm hooked. I spend more time on blogs than I do on e-mail lists, and if I don't set a limit, I could spend all day reading blogs. As a side note, the Google Toolbar version 2.0--still in beta at press time--should probably be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. In addition to some nice features like a pop-up blocker, version 2.0 has an icon that lets you create a blog entry for whatever page you're viewing. It links you to Blogger, a free blogging site owned not coincidentally--by Google, where you can annotate the link and post it to your own blog. This is going to be instrumental in causing an explosion in the blogosphere; "blogging" will finally enter the common vernacular, just as "googling" has.

What's particularly interesting is how blogs are a genre that is built around networking, in a way that is distinct from any other form of information. Tracking who is talking about whom is a lot more interesting now; we can follow a meme as it works its way through blogspace by following blog links back to earlier blogs to whoever first noted the new trend, product, or idea.

Just as in the early days of the Web, there aren't a lot of powerful tools available to track blogs right now. One of the difficulties, of course, is that blogs by their nature are updated far more frequently than traditional search engines can spider them. And a plain search engine may not be the most appropriate tool in any event. …

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