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banner Monday, 4 February, 2002, 12:02 GMT
I blog, therefore I am
Ever read a weblog? Perhaps you are one of the growing numbers who keep one. Or maybe you haven't got a clue what they are. Read on, all will be explained by British blogger Giles Turnbull.

Last week a little-known awards ceremony in the US gave out precious "Bloggie" gongs to some of the world's best weblogs.

Weblogs are websites owned and run by ordinary people like you and me. On them, they post stories, poems, pictures, rants, and links to other web sites.

Nick Robinson's Newslog
Nick Robinson's online update
But unlike old-fashioned home pages, they are constantly changing - most weblogs, or "blogs", are updated at least once a day, and in some cases dozens of times a day.

Some bloggers - especially those who have been at it for a while - have earned notoriety, if not fame, from their weblogs. To their colleagues at the office, they may be the same old face as ever. But online, these people are celebrities.

Aside from constant updating, the other important thing about weblogs is that anybody can have one. Setting up a blog requires very little internet expertise, and can be done for no money whatsoever.

Starting a weblog at, the website that started the blogging boom, takes little over two minutes (I set up a new one just to check - see internet links on the right of this page). The simplicity of the process is partly responsible for the huge rise of blogging.

Westminster watch

It's become so popular that the idea has spread to mainstream sites. BBC News Online has a weblog where political correspondent Nick Robinson posts regular updates about the world of Westminster. The Guardian runs a much-admired weblog concentrating on international news.

Bloggies 2002
Weblog of the year: Wil Wheaton Dot Net
Lifetime achievement: Evan Williams
Best weblog about music:
Weblogs are earning a reputation as a useful means of storing information, like a personal library where you can file away interesting snippets that you might like to return to another day.

They also encourage creativity and expression on the part of their owners.

Bloggers, of course, like to read other weblogs. They frequently create links from one weblog to the next. They have been known to create and build friendships, even love affairs - and in some cases, they have known to foster bitchiness, resentment, and yes, even anger.

So when the Bloggie award winners were announced last week, there was considerable excitement in the world of weblogging.

'Well known'

Tom Coates, the man behind was delighted to win the award for Best European Weblog.

Bulging diary
Let the world know what's in your diary
"I'm lucky enough to have been running a weblog for a long time now, and because of that I'm reasonably well known in the community," he said.

"For better or worse that seems to count for quite a lot. But having said that, people wouldn't come to the site or vote for it if they really didn't enjoy it - so I must be doing something right."

The Bloggie awards are "a fun way for people to find sites they might not otherwise know about. They're also a nice way to get a bit of publicity for a new kind of interactive media: direct online personal publishing".

Meg Pickard, another well-known British blogger, tried to explain the appeal of having a weblog:

Whil Wheaton screengrab
Best weblog in the world went to Wil Wheaton Dot Net
"I know a lot more about the web now than I did a few years ago. Keeping a website which is updated frequently is a great way to learn about new sites, technologies, ideas and memes," she said.

"I don't want to be a web personality; my site is just my ramblings, as if I was in the pub with a bunch of mates - but organised in sequential, digital form. I maintain my site for my own interest and curiosity. It's a thinking space."

And Dan Hon, another "old-timer" who remembers when there were only about 20 self-confessed UK bloggers (there are now over 400), says his weblog is "another method of communication. I could use e-mail, but sometimes it's just easier if I post things to my blog".

So, if you have regular access to the web, you could have a weblog of your own.

Woody Allen
Fan of Woody? Let your admiration be more widely known
If you go to and click on the "Start now!" button, you could have one set up in no time at all. (If you do need help, there's an article on BBC Webwise that has more detail.)

Just imagine - your own, free place on the net to record your thoughts, to place your bookmarks, to rant and scream about all the things that annoy you. A place to pretend you're someone else, or to put all those poems and stories you've been writing over the years.

A place to write about your efforts to learn Spanish, your love of Woody Allen movies, or your stamp collection.

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