The first blogs appeared in the wild sometime in the early 1990’s. Most people wouldn’t recognize them as such. They were often a mixture of links, directories, personal thoughts, and commentary all rolled into one. These early blogs were really just manually updated pages of popular websites, so it was the purpose that differentiated them, and not the software. The first recognized blogging platforms came into existence in the mid-90’s, the most common example being the Scripting News blog and parent company Userland.
In 1999, with the introduction of Blogger (now owned by Google), blogs became much more prevalent, and their content morphed from being link and web-driven, to being journal-driven. The word “blog” itself is derived from its more formal name, web log, suggesting that blogs should be displayed in a journal or log entry format, and should be updated frequently, much as a personal log or diary would be.
People began using blogs as online journals, connecting with people of similar interests around the world. Communities formed where bloggers would regularly visit, comment on, and interact with other bloggers in their field.
The next major paradigm shift happened much more gradually, as companies realized that blogs were an easy and informal way of keeping in touch with their customers. Journalists began using them as publishing platforms to get the people’s word out quickly.
According to a 2004 Pew Internet and American Life project survey, the average blogger at the time was primarily an upper-middle class male under the age of 30 with high-speed Internet access who had been online for more than six years. In just four years, the blogging landscape has changed dramatically, leading to a much more demographically diverse group of people today.
Part of this demographic shift is due to the increased availability of broadband access around the world, but most of it is due to the variety of user-friendly tools available to create blogs. Gone are the days when only those with technical backgrounds could write and maintain blogs. This has been an overwhelmingly positive development for blogging, as now blogs exist on almost every topic imaginable, written by people from all walks of life.
Now blogs are everywhere, and they’re used for all kinds of different purposes. They’re no longer a curiosity, but are now both expected and respected. Blogging software has improved, the supporting infrastructure is powerful, and blogs are now one of the easiest, most powerful ways to establish a presence on the web.