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What Are Weblogs?

Weblogs are often-updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments, and to on-site articles.  

A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide who you get to know. There are many guides to choose from, each develops an audience, and there's also comraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs, they point to each other, in all kinds of structures, graphs, loops, etc.

They also point up, in a sense, to the sites they read. On Scripting News I tend to point to stories on Infoworld, Wired, MacWEEK, MSNBC, NY Times, Red Herring, and at technical sites, centered around scripting, or what I perceive scripting to be.

There are literally hundreds of these sites, and some people think there will be many thousands by the end of next year. (I am one of those people.)

What is Weblogs.Com? 

Think of this site as an ever-more-customizable view into the world of Weblogs. From this site you can choose your favorite sites, and find out when they are updated. You can view all the sites, or view them categorized, you can search the weblogs to see how news travels through the Weblog world, and (coming shortly) you'll be able to create your own weblog as part of Weblogs.Com.

Free Weblog hosting 

You can create your own Weblog site here, it's free, and takes about a minute.

All editing is in your Web browser. It's easy!

Weblog banner ads 

Several hundred weblogs have registered 175-by-24 pixel banner ads with this server. They rotate through the Scripting News home page and many other popular sites.

Banner ads are a great way to share your flow with other weblogs, the ads are creative, colorful and entertaining. All the ads are listed on this page, with statistics and a how-to explaining how include ads on your site, and how to get your ad to appear on other sites.

Weblogs XML feeds 

This is an open system. That means that the list of registered weblogs, the calendar of their changes, the weblog categorization, and the hiearchy of favorites are all available as hourly-updated XML files, openly accessible over the Web. This means that application developers can build tools that build on the information gathered by this server.

Early weblogs 

The first weblog was the first website, the site built by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. From this page TBL pointed to all the new sites as they came online. Unfortunately this site wasn't archived, wouldn't it be great if it were?

NCSA's What's New page took the cursor for a while, then Netscape's What's New page was the big blog in the sky in 1993-96. Then all hell broke loose. The web exploded, but the weblog idea persisted, in a more distributed form.

I did my first weblog in February 1996, as part of the 24 Hours of Democracy website. It helped glue the community together, along with a mail list that was hosted by AOL.

In April 1996 I started a news page for Frontier users, which became Scripting News on 4/1/97.

Other early weblogs include Robot Wisdom, Tomalak's Realm and CamWorld.

Quotes 

3/8/00: E&P. "Slow corporatization of the concept will probably be fine with many of the thousands of independent Webloggers who pioneered the concept. Romenesko says as Weblogging becomes more widespread among corporations, there's likely to be some resentment from the pioneers who see it as an anti-corporate concept."

2/23/00: Wired. "Thanks to new easy-to-use software, the number of weblogs on the Net seems to be growing at an unprecedented rate."

9/7/99: Chicago Tribune. "A Weblog is a Web site that maintains a constantly updated list of links to other sites; those links can deal with any subject or focus on a particular one. Webloggers typically offer pithy, sarcastic commentary about the links."

8/2/99: New York Times. "Summaries of news predate the Internet, of course. But in the digital era, when virtually anyone with Net access can operate an electronic clipping service, the genre has spawned thousands of news hounds -- not to mention the news links on big portal sites like Yahoo and Excite. Yet, largely through grass-roots, word-of-mouse popularity, sites like Romenesko's are catching on with a discerning crowd -- including reporters and editors of many news organizations, who rely on the sites to help filter the welter of information on the Web."

5/28/99: Salon. "Weblogs, typically, are personal Web sites operated by individuals who compile chronological lists of links to stuff that interests them, interspersed with information, editorializing and personal asides. A good weblog is updated often, in a kind of real-time improvisation, with pointers to interesting events, pages, stories and happenings elsewhere on the Web. New stuff piles on top of the page; older stuff sinks to the bottom."

Open to members 

Membership in this site is open. If you include the name and url of a weblog on the Prefs page, Weblogs.Com will start checking your page every hour along with all the other sites. If there's a change in the HTML text, it will appear in the list for the current hour.

Privacy policy 

Except for passwords, all information entered into Weblogs.Com is public.

This is a distribution hub, its purpose is to inform people about new public sites.

The software behind this server is available for license. You can operate a clone of Weblogs.Com that implements any privacy policy that suits your organization or workgroup.

Statistics, errors 

Weblogs.Com keeps statistics on the performance of each site, and lists all the errors reading sites on a daily basis.

Categories 

We have a facility for self-categorization of weblogs, but it's pretty chaotic, somewhat interesting, but not well organized. It's worth a periodic browse, but not worth a link in the nav links in the site template.

Special feature for dynamic sites 

A few sites have clocks or text-based counters that make the HTML text change even when no new stories or links have appeared.

For these sites, we've also included a "Changes URL" in the Prefs form, this is the URL of the page we should check to see if there are any changes. This has helped in some cases, where the system maintains a "content only" version of the file, like a RSS file to be scanned by My.UserLand.

We're still thinking about simple ways we can improve this.

Discussion group 

There's an open discussion group here too. People have already used it to ask questions and make suggestions about how Weblog Monitor works. This DG can be used as a resource for weblog authors and companies who develop tools for them. This would be an excellent place to discuss XML-RPC calls to connect various services together.

How to 

If you want to add your weblog to the mix, you can add it now, by clicking on the Prefs link to the left.