This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: November 21, 2002

Slogging through the blogs

They're everywhere—they're serious and funny, left-wing and right-wing, personal and insightful, boring and captivating and annoying. And not necessarily all at once. They come in all stripes, shapes and manners.

But what, exactly, is a blog? Short for Web log, a blog usually is a frequently updated, diary-like Web site, with the most recently dated entries appearing first. It usually contains opinions, links of interest and often commentary on news and current events. Some are revered for their intense coverage of a specific topic, others read like a rambling account of mundane activities. Many blogs are created by one individual, while some invite participation and response from others. And bloggers take pride in carefully choosing links to other sites, including other blogs. Search InfoTrac for the term "blog*" to retrieve a wealth of articles on many aspects of blogs and blogging.

Easy-to-use, free software often is available on the Web, making it possible for anyone to author a blog. A blog almost is a cross between a personal email or a chat and a traditional Web site, created for the whole world to see. A Closer Look at Web logs by librarian Cindy Curling points the reader to sources for finding blogs and for building and hosting tools available on the Internet.

Blogs are ubiquitous. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 generated the spontaneous participation of people and their computers to keep each other informed as developments unraveled and the community need for information and support was immediate. Increasingly, corporations and educational institutions are experimenting with blog applications to meet their missions. Even college courses on blogging are emerging

Some blogs call to task and hold accountable the mainstream news media; the mainstream media, in turn, have adopted the blog format for their own use. The Web log Blog reports on blogging as journalism. The CyberJournalist List is a directory of journalist's blogs featured on professional news sites or published independently.

Lawyers also are on the blogging edge. Law blogs, often called "blawgs," are created by law professors, lawyers and law students. A list of law blogs is posted on the Jurist Web site One of the most widely read blogs is InstaPundit created by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds. Jurist also links to Buffalo attorney Bill Altreuter's blog, Outside Counsel Immediately after the recent oral arguments for the copyright case Eldred v. Ashcroft in the U. S. Supreme Court, law bloggers provided early reports of the proceedings on LawMeme, a blog focusing on law, technology and policy sponsored by the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Tomorrow, the same group at Yale is sponsoring a program, "Revenge of the Blogs," that will be open to the public and feature some well known bloggers. No doubt, a participant from the audience or perhaps a panelist will be blogging in real time, informing the world even as program events unfold. Have palm pilot—or laptop—will blog!

—Nina Cascio and Rick McRae, University Libraries