Messages from the edge of the Web

a weblog is a personal journal, usually maintained by one person, recording that person's travels around the web that is updated on a regular basis.

Sep 1st, 2002

I have recently been prowling around some intriguing web sites known as "weblogs," or just "blogs." Basically, a weblog is a personal journal, usually maintained by one person, recording that person's travels around the web that is updated on a regular basis. Weblogs are a public reflection of the person who "owns" the web site and are often very idiosyncratic. There are many weblogs, but only a few merit regular viewing. Here's my very personal top-ten list of weblogs (not in rank order) :

Guardian Online (www.onlineblog.com): the weblog of The Guardian, a British newspaper that runs a weekly section (The Guardian Online) on computers and the Web. Useful news and commentary with a light touch.

Jim Romenesko's Obscure Store and Reading Room (www.obscurestore.com): a collection of humorous, wild, wacky and occasionally pathetic news items you almost certainly missed. Romenesko is an online journalist who also edits the highly-respected Jim Romenesko's Media News (www.poynter.org/medianews).

Thin-film Manufacturing (www.thinfilmmfg.com): a technical site heavily-oriented to the semiconductor manufacturing industry, run by Katherine Derbyshire, a former senior editor of Solid State Technology, a PennWell sister publication to Laser Focus World. Interesting reporting and informed commentary.

Tomalak's Realm (www.tomalak.org): subtitled "Daily Links to Strategic Web Design News." An incisive review of recent web developments. Offers a version that can be downloaded every day to your handheld computer.

Physics and Astronomy Education (www.physlink.com): one of the few science sites of any merit and one of the better designed sites.

Eatonweb Portal (portal.eatonweb.com): the original directory listing of weblogs. Does not contain every single weblog but is a good starting point for searches for specific weblogs. Very easy to use.

Blogdex (blogdex.media.mit.edu): More than 13,000 weblogs searchable in many ways. This is a research project of the famed MIT Media Lab.

Boing Boing (www.boingboing.net): At first sight (no pun intended) Boing Boing seems to be on the wild and wacky side, but there is much informative content.

Internet Scout Weblog (scout.cs.wisc.edu/weblog): the weblog of the Internet Scout Project, a weekly report (published since 1994) on the Internet and its resources, published under the auspices of the Computer Science Department of the University of Wisconsin. Particularly valuable for educators.

Tech Central Station (www.techcentralsta.tion.com): a sophisticated and well-informed hybrid web site/weblog covering science and technology with particular emphasis on Washington issues. Unlike most weblogs, this one has financial support through advertising.

If this list provokes you into setting up your very own weblog, there are a couple of ways you can go about it. The simplest and cheapest way (free!) is to use a service such as that offered by Blogger (www.blogger.com). Blogger will lead you by the hand through the process of setting up a weblog that will run on Blogger's server, called "Blogspot." You can also use Blogger to develop a weblog that you can run on your own web server or on one provided by your ISP. Similar software is offered by Userland Software (radio.userland.com) and Movable Type (www.movabletype.com). The process is pretty simple—I set up a simple weblog in little more than an hour (www.blazerblight.blogspot.com).

But be careful how you go with a weblog. Remember that weblogs are available for all to see. However, unlike many user groups, readers can't usually write directly to a weblog although many weblogs do encourage viewer comments.

Jeff Bairstow
ATD Online Editorial Director
jbairstow@pennwell.com

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