With millions of people around the world of different ages and backgrounds blogging about whatever they feel like, it is about as easy to generalise about ‘bloggers’ as it is to make sweeping statements about ‘human beings’. Here are some of the main kinds of blogs you will come across:
Many millions of people keep blogs about their everyday lives, much like public diaries. These sometimes become very popular indeed, especially those anonymous, slightly risqué ones. You know the sort: they get written about in the Sunday Times and become best-selling novels. One of the best-known personal blogs is Dooce.
Especially in the US, but increasingly in the UK, blogs are being written about politics. Often perceived as a response to media bias (across the political spectrum) they tend to comment on the news, giving closer analysis of issues they feel have been misrepresented or glossed over by mainstream media. In America most if not all of the contenders for the presidency in 2008 already have bloggers on staff to advise on reaching political bloggers and their readers. We are not quite at that stage in the UK, but blogging has been playing a part in the resurgence of grassroots Conservative politics, and right-of-centre bloggers such as Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes have been making their presence in the UK mainstream media. Influential examples from the political left include MediaLens and Harry’s Place.
Many professionals and businesses now have blogs. They can allow companies to communicate in a less formal style than has been traditional in newsletters, brochures and press releases, which can help to give a human face and voice to the organisation. For individuals in business a blog can become a very effective way of building a network of like-minded individuals and raising their own profiles. Blog Maverick is a good example.
‘Almost media’ blogs
Some blogs are unashamedly media businesses in their own right, taking advertising and employing a blogger or a group of bloggers full-time. Effectively, they are startups that are taking advantage of the new blogging technologies and opportunities to build communities of readers in new or niche subject areas. These are generally to be found covering news and opinion in the technology and media industries. Try Businesspundit.com or Hecklerspray.
Mainstream media blogs
Most national newspapers in the UK – not to mention the BBC – now have blogs for some of their reporters and editors. These can provide useful insights into the news gathering and reporting process, but will also give vent to personal views that the journalist may otherwise have kept to themselves. For example, see BBC business editor Robert Peston’s blog. It’s worth noting that while many journalist blogs are hosted on newspaper sites themselves, a large number are independent, personal blogs with a major focus on their professional interests.
The easiest way to read blogs is to subscribe to ones you find interesting using the Bloglines, Google Reader or Newsgator newsreader services. A newsreader is a website or piece of software where you can go to read a newsfeed that you are subscribed to via RSS. All blogs and most news websites have RSS feeds attached to them.
You can find blogs on topics that you’re interested in by using search engines like Technorati or Google Blog Search. If you find a blog which is particularly interesting or relevant to you, have a look for its ‘blogroll’ (list of recommended blogs) – it’s a great way of exploring the networks of blogs.