Each phase of the expansion of the Web brings communication structures and communities. Each structure seems to motivate a group of enthusiasts to adopt particular forms, culture, and practices. Blogs are no different.
A blog is simply a set of Web pages that are usually written in a diary-like form and usually updated frequently. People who write blogs can use a Web browser to create blog entries. A Web server runs the blog management software and serves the pages, so there is no need for a specialized client or server.
The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger, editor of robotwisdom.com in December 1997. By 1999, the term was shortened to "blog" by Peter Merholz. Today, the term blog seems the most dominant, and it is used as a noun or verb.
Blog writers create entries on a range of topics. Typical are comments on current news events or news coverage, personal narratives, opinions, or diary-like accounts. Hypertext linking from blog to blog or other Web content is a very popular practice, as is forming cliques of bloggers who refer to each others' blogs or groups of bloggers contributing to the same blog. The term "blogosphere" refers to the community of all bloggers.
You can see the Blogosphere Index for a compact set of links to explore the blogosphere.
Blog pages often appear uniform in layout and design because some are created using blog software which often employs a template technique for generating each page. As a result, blogs usually don't suffer from the problems new users can have with formatting Web pages.
Like in Usenet news groups, the blog article or post is a unit of communication. Also like Usenet, linking among blog posts creates threads in which posts cross-reference each other. Unlike Usenet, each blog owner controls who posts to his own blog. However, allowing free-for-all comments attached to a blog post is possible (but can lead to comment spam) as is allowing a select set of other users to post articles. Unlike Usenet, blogs are not under any strict naming or subject hierarchy or creation control other than the restrictions that may be on individual blog hosting sites. People can host blogs on their own Web site under their own domain name using blog software. Also, unlike Usenet posts, archived blog posts provide a static URL for linking or searching. Practices such as syndication (for example, using RSS, Really Simple Syndication) of blog posts make it possible for aggregators to show syndicated blog content, increasing the visibility of the syndicated blogs.
Like the MUD/MOO/MU* trend of the mid 1990's, blog culture has its own norms, expectations, traditional forms, and culture. Blogs share the the static structural nature of MOOs (blog content is on Web pages which unless deleted by the creator or blog hosting service, stays there for later viewing) and and the collaborative characteristics of Usenet threads (because of the high amount of cross-linking among blogs). The sites which provide space for users to set up their own blogs share the similar kind of range of quality and content reminiscent of the homepages of sites like GeoCities in the early days of the Web. And, like in those ancient days, some blog authors compete for attention and/or popularity for their blogs.
Contemporary blogging includes commentary and criticism of traditional media (see, for example, "Online Uprising.")