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Let’s get personal

Don’t know a blog from a frog? read on. Sites hed: Let’s get personal dek: Don’t know a blog from a frog? read on.

In the wake of Sept. 11, minutiae that normally occupy our days took a back seat, at least temporarily, to being with others. People turned not only to loved ones but to complete strangers–on the street, in places of worship, and on the Internet. Everyone seemed to be overwhelmed with an aching need to reach out. Weblogs, or blogs, filled that need like nothing else, connecting people to multiple sources of news, commentary, and personal accounts of the tragedy.

Unlike journals, weblogs typically focus on news of the day or other subjects of a public nature, offering a personal twist and incorporating links you wouldn’t otherwise find. (It should be noted, however, that one of the oldest blogs is a personal site, and many journal-style sites with frequently updated entries and links are now also classified as blogs.) Two news-oriented weblogs worth visiting then and now are published by former journalists in their offline lives. Go to WarLog and Blogorama.

Weblogs first appeared in the early 90s, created by people who knew how to build Web sites from scratch. In 1999, Pitas became the first site to introduce blogger templates. Predictably, once no HTML coding was needed to become a blogger, weblogs exploded. Now you can tour sites that compile hundreds of blogs and create your own using their free templates. As you might guess, this plethora of self-expression presents its own problem: wading through blog bogs to find the good stuff.

Start out at Eatonweb Portal, a rare blog portal that organizes its blogs by category, from anime to politics to weddings (OK, so the “general” category boasts the highest number of listed blogs–it’s still better than random chance). This site also helpfully lists group blogs and “meta” blogs–which are weblogs about weblogs. The resource links contain further education on weblogs, such as weblog history and how-tos. It also links to sites where you can create your own weblog or monitor various weblog rankings, such as which was first to link to a certain hot news story.

You’ll also want to visit two other major weblog portals, Blogger and These sites allow you to create your own blog, although doesn’t allow you to browse blogs without first becoming a member.

The more you surf blog sites, the faster you’ll be able to decide which ones speak to you. My favorite site is Rebecca’s Pocket. Why? She seems to have some psychic link to the way my brain works. Your soul-blog may be, one of the oldest blogs out there, which follows the personal adventures of its author, Justin Hall. Or maybe you can’t live without Jim Romenesko’s Media News, or Dave Winer’s Scripting News Weblog. Or maybe you just need some Bread, Coffee, Chocolate, Yoga, Hmmm. Who wouldn’t? I think I may have just found a new soul-blog.

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