I just found this in my GMail archives. It was published in the law school newspaper:
A few years ago, blogging (short for “web log”) was an esoteric pursuit for a few tech-minded geeks in Silicon Valley. Now, seemingly overnight, the blogging phenomenon has become an integral part of our wired culture. Most people under the age of 35 know at least one person in their circle who qualifies as a blogger. What happened?
The word blog was coined in 1997 to describe a site where you could post daily writings in a journal format, with a heavy emphasis on links to sites of interest. The blog culture as we know it remained relatively low-key until it was “discovered” by the mainstream American media circa 2002. Political bloggers (like talkingpointsmemo.com and instapundit.com) started getting referenced in respectable newspapers and helping a few news stories gain prominence in the wider commercial media. Most notably and recently, bloggers pursued inconsistencies in a story shown on "60 Minutes" about the Iraq war. Their posts on the subject eventually led to the end of Dan Rather’s career as anchor of the CBS Evening News.
But politics is only one of a number of topics bloggers have been devoting themselves to. Many use their blogs as public diaries where they write down the events of their lives and include interesting links to websites that have made them think or laugh without necessarily being newsworthy.
Blogging’s spread probably has a lot to do with the fact that’s it’s relatively easy to do. All you need is an internet connection and a free account from a site like Blogger.com and in less than 10 minutes, even the most code-phobic can have their own outpost on the web.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of blogs is the fact that there is a blog for every interest, even the most obscure. Previously, those who wanted to write about subjects of interest only to a small minority had no outlet through which to do so. Now, through blogging they can reach an international audience that is only a Google search away. There’s something charmingly democratic about a medium that requires only that one have a message and the will to spread it. In a way, blogging has fulfilled the promise of the internet in a way the overwhelming proliferation of commercial websites never could have.
Of course, no good idea can remain untainted by the whiff of commerce and so a number of profit-oriented blogs have emerged in the past two years notably, Nick Denton’s stable of gossip and advice related blogs, grouped under the heading Gawker media. While Denton’s blogs are clever and well-written, it seems as though the idyllic early days of blogging are coming to an end. It’s not too late to get on the band wagon and say you were there when…
If you’d like to start your own weblog, try Blogger.com or Livejournal.com. Both offer free web-based software that lets you start up a blog without having to acquire your own webspace or learn HTML. Set-up takes about five minutes and you’re ready to go.
If you’re not ready to commit to your own blog, you can visit these sites to get a feel for the process:
Kottke.org: This is probably the most popular blog on the net right now. It deals with the observations of a former computer programmer Jason Kottke who is believed to be the first non-commercial professional blogger.
Gawker.com, Defamer.com, Lifehacker.com These three sites are part of Nick Denton’s commercial blog empire. Gawker and Defamer traffic in super-witty celebrity gossip and Lifehacker is full of useful tips about how to simplify one’s life online and off.