Blogging – the easy way to make your mark online

Back in the early days of the World Wide Web it was celebrated as a great tool for democracy and freedom of speech. Finally publishing was available to the little man, not only to large corporations and wealthy individuals. We would all be able to share our ideas, hopes and dreams with the world, and benefit from the combined knowledge of everyone else.

Today the web seems dominated by large corporations. The most visited sites are those run by the same people who publish the best selling news papers, or sell the most records. What happened to the power of the ordinary person that the web was supposed to herald?

The problem for many people is that starting a web site was a technical process. If you wanted to make your views public, you first needed to learn HTML, or buy expensive software that did it all for you. Updating a site meant fiddling with FTP servers. Anything fancy required some knowledge of a programming language like JavaScript or Visual Basic. People who want to say something don’t always want to be bothered with such distractions. Those people stuck to the oral tradition – standing around and chatting with people they know.

But then came blogging.

What is blogging?

Blog is short for web log. Get it? A blog is a web site that is regularly updated by one or more people. The updates appear in chronological order and are dated – the most recent update appears at the top of the page. Blogs are everything from online diaries awing you to peep into the inner workings of a stranger’s mind, to running political commentaries contributed to by several people.

Blogs first started appearing in 199. Early blogs that are still running include Camworld and Jorn Barger’s. At this time blogs were mostly written by technically minded people who could be bothered with all the hassle. But only to a point. They wanted to be able to get their thoughts out there as fast as possible. So they wrote blogging systems which took away
all the technical tasks. And then they started sharing them with everyone else. Systems like Blogger sprang up, offering
mere mortals the opportunity to have their own easy to update web sites. Adding content to the site is as easy as sending an email – easier even – you don’t need to remember anyone’s email address! Simply log on, enter your thoughts, hit the Blog button and it is there for the world to see!

Finding blogs

If you want to check out a few blogs, a good place to start is Blogger. Blogger host thousands of blogs, and their favourite ones are listed on their home page. Most bloggers list their favourite blogs so once you have found one you like you can surf off to others. A directory of blogs by subject and country can be found at Blogwise. There are none from Tanzania yet. Let’s change that.

A blog of your own

The easiest way to set up a blog is to join Blogger. This is a free service, but adverts will be included on your page. Register at Blogger by clicking on the Start Here button. You will have to fill in a few forms. Make sure you select to host
your blog at BlogSpot for the free service. Once you have selected a name, described your blog and chosen a template you can start blogging straight away! Make sure to memorise your username and password. You can add posts to your blog from any computer attached to the internet.

Blogger is very flexible – you can let your friends add posts to the same blog and change the look of the site by choosing a new template. You can set up your blog so it lets Blogger know when you have updated it – it will then be listed in the most recently updated blogs list on Blogger.com.

Why blog?

Blogging gives you the opportunity to have a voice on the World Wide Web. You can air your thoughts on anything you like. You could use your blog to keep your friends and family up to date with your news. You could use it to write a newsletter on an issue you are passionate about. You could even use a blog to boost your safari company – today we saw ten lions attacking a hippopotamus only two meters from the vehicle! It is the cheapest and easiest way to give yourself a presence on the World Wide Web.

Blogging has even managed to spawn some celebrities whose blogs are read on a regular basis by thousands of people around the world. Sites such as BlogDex and BlogShares measure which sites are the hottest at any particular time. Play your cards right and you could be up there with them!

If you start a blog, please let me know:
duncandrury@yahoo.co.uk

You can read my blog at DunxD.com. I will list any Arusha blogs I hear about there.

Originally published in Arusha Times 316

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