Dear Diary, today my day was as depressing as a pup in the rain.hang on a minute, this is the 21st century where diary entries aren't made like this anymore. With everything else getting Net savvy, so are diary entries.
Blogging is the latest phenomenon that has taken the World Wide Web by storm. When they started as web logs five years ago, no one took them seriously. Today there are over nine million blogs and 40,000 new ones are added everyday. Even the business community has taken notice and advertisers have started booking banners on the more popular sites.
The influence of chat rooms and discussion fora in the evolution of blogs are apparent. The anonymity of the Internet has always appealed to the masses and there is something reassuring about pouring your heart out to a world of complete strangers. Most blogs still read like diary entries and give a psychological insight into the minds of their writers. But lately, they have expanded to encompass hobbies, political issues, rare diseases and even specific professional sectors.
Blog is one of the most searched words on Google but there are specific search engines such as Technorati and Pubsub that cater to individual interests and refer blogs accordingly. After 9/11, blogs gave families and friends space to express their grief and helped locate people during the 2004 Tsunami. It was also a powerful lobbying tool during the US elections.
On the flip side many people have lost their jobs due to blog entries that were considered unethical and harmful to company policy. Conversely, bloggers also routinely character assassinate since there are few controls. Bloggers revel in the fact that they don't have to deal with editors, censorship and commercial interests and are derogatory of mainstream media.
Should bloggers have an ethics code? Should they even be taken seriously? Have they done enough research? Bloggers frown upon fake bloggers, called floggers who use blogs to experiment with creative writing. For example, a 30-year-old woman posing as a 13-year-old orphan, blogs created by marketing departments of companies to sell their product or even just someone who craves attention. But there are serious bloggers who bypass censorship to give genuine reports of ground realities such as Salam Pax who provided an in-depth view of Iraq while it was under attack.
Popular blog sites are now being bankrolled by advertisers. Internet giants are cashing in on the deal like Flickr, a photo sharing software that spread all over the web in its testing phase and was soon acquired by Yahoo.
Blogs can be updated from computers, cell phones and even ipods. The simplicity and accessibility of blogs is what has made blogs spread across the web, all it requires is a computer, an Internet connection and a blog account in sites such as blogspot.com or livejournal.com.
Blogging for beginners
. Go to a host site such as www.blogspot.com or www.livejournal.com
. Go to Create a blog/account and type in your desired username, password and email address
. Then create a blog name and also type a URL for your blog while verifying the fact that you are a human being and choose a template
. Start blogging and then click a little button that says save
. Voila! Millions of people can read what you've written, free of cost to both parties.
One of the legacies of February First in Nepal is blogging. Press censorship forced some Nepali journalists to start posting information on their own sites, propelling the blogging boom.
Dinesh Wagle of Kantipur already had his personal website but February First prompted him and Ujjwal Acharya to express their thoughts and feelings through blogging. 'United We Blog!' became a political slogan with 'For a free and democratic Nepal'. Other journalists such as Deepak Adhikari, Bishnu Basnet, Tilak Pathak, Tapas Thapa, Kiran Chapagain, Gunaraj Luitel and Dhruba Simkhada began writing for United We Blog! It became a place where readers could find uncensored analysis, news and could make their own postings. As in other dictatorships, in Nepal too blogging changed from being just self-indulgent rantings to a vehicle for free speech. It has now jumped the language barrier from English to Nepali in Unicode.
Two other popular blog sites are Radio Free Nepal at blogspot.com and nepalnow.blogspot.com. Blogdai who writes for nepalnow.blogspot.com has become increasingly popular for his irreverent writings on current affairs. Wagle stresses the need for ethics while writing politically motivated blogs.
"Blogging has no editor, proof-reader or censor. You post it and it's there for everyone to read and comment on," he says.
Kathmandu's bloggers are not under the line of fire as radio and print journalists in the districts but they are using their freedom to expose the continued crackdowns on other media very effectively.