Online diarists started blogs long before the word entered the American lexicon, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the precise origins of blogging as a practice. However, from those early days of unattractive formatting and clunky navigation, blogging has evolved and progressed as more voices join the chorus.
The First Bloggers
Some say Swarthmore College student Justin Hall published the first blog. He taught himself HTML and launched Links.net, a personal diary consisting of links to other pages Hall found illuminating as well as observations on his daily life.
Others credit the blog’s genesis to self-described computer geek Jorn Barger. After years of contributing to the Usenet network, he launched a website called Robot Wisdom in 1997 and coined the term weblog (or “web logging”), which originally morphed into the more shortened term “blog.”
Defining The Blog
A weblog or blog is defined as “a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites,” according to Dictionary.com. It’s usually published in reverse-chronological order, which means the latest posts appear first.
Initially, bloggers published text-heavy posts about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Most blogs featured one writer (the original author) and focused on personal observations.
The first blogs were hand-coded by their authors. However, the advent of blogging software took most of the heavy work away from bloggers and allowed them to focus on content creation.
In 1999, Pyra Labs launched a free blog-creation service called Blogger. The web-based software allowed anyone with an Internet connection to create and populate a blog on their own terms.
Other platforms followed, such as WordPress and Typepad. Some, like WordPress, allowed users to download the software and upload it onto their own servers for use on a separate domain.
Redefining The Blog
As time passed, blogs transitioned once again into tools for businesses and professionals. They provided corporations with the opportunity to connect with their audiences and attract more traffic. They also served as promotional tools for creative professionals.
Blogging platforms introduced the option for multi-author blogs. In other words, several people could post to a single blog using different usernames, passwords, biographies, and photos.
Though bloggers used their blogs as promotional tools for years, the advent of automated monetization transformed the blogging landscape yet again. Google Adsense launched in March 2003, matching advertisers with bloggers and other content creators.
Bloggers turned to other methods of monetization, as well, such as creating affiliate relationships with businesses and writing sponsored posts. Blogs became a staple of most websites – sometimes serving as the whole site, but more often as a component of a larger publication.
Big Names in Blogs
Over the years, several big-named bloggers have established loyal followings, generated significant income, and established conventions of the genre. Heather Armstrong, for example, got fired from her job because of anecdotes she posted on her highly popular blog, Dooce. The subsequent furor over her firing led to the word “Dooced” becoming synonymous with “fired for blogging.”
Gawker and other gossip-heavy blogs enjoy immense popularity, as do blogs dedicated to social and political commentary, such as those found on Huffington Post and the Drudge Report.
The history of blogging is littered with abandoned publications and cautionary tales, but it also presents a unique and fascinating world for eager content creators. To launch your own blog, sign up for a risk-free trial at BlogPress.