Blogs, or weblogs, originated back in 1999 with Blogger, which was then under Pyra Labs and has since been purchased by Google. “Blog” was a term coined by Peter Merholz who lightheartedly broke “weblog” into “we blog” in his blog Peterme.com. It was the first time anyone could create a website on their own without having to know anything about programming.
After quickly became popular and by mid-2000s, blogs went on to become the center of discussion on the web on any topic from politics and human rights to lifestyle and traveling. However, social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, emerged around that time in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
With the increased popularity of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the blogging landscape has undergone significant changes. Blogs are no longer the principal center for debates and discussions on the web. In fact, these social media platforms are. However, blogs still thrive in our day and are still effective in 2015.
“Thought to be on the wane a decade ago, blogs in 2015 are alive and well as a powerful voice driving change in politics, human rights and lifestyle choices across the globe,” explained Roland de Courson of AFP.
He added, “In some parts of the world, blogs are the only vehicle to raise taboo topics, often with dire or even deadly consequences for the authors.”
Last year, in the mainly Islamic nation of Bangladesh, four atheist bloggers and a publisher were hacked to death by Islamic hardliners for writing what they considered profane. Nevertheless, blogs have garnered huge popularity in the nation over the recent years, and there are several blogs have tens of thousands of readers.
Through their blogs, the bloggers have been able to voice their opinions on contentious issues, often ignored by the mainstream media. However, it has not been easy, as these bloggers have had to regularly deal with threats from extremist groups.
Blogger Arif Jebtik told AFP, “Bloggers are the biggest challenge for the evil forces in the country. For telling the blunt truth without hesitation, the bloggers are becoming the targets of these bad people.”
Jebtik’s writings have led to him being threatened by Islamist militants in the past.
Bangladesh Online Activists’ Network (BOAN) head Imran H. Sarker says, “It is easier for the bloggers to reach a general crowd with sensitive issues such as politics, religion and human rights over the internet, since the national media sometimes has censorship and tend to avoid focus on these topics.”
Bloggers have also been a nuisance for authoritarian regimes around the globe because of their capability to reach out to the masses without being censored. Blogger Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia is one prime example.
Known for his outspoken views on freedom of speech, Badawi was arrested in 2012, allegedly guilty of “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes to be carried over 20 weeks along with a fine. The sentence sparked outrage throughout the world. The first flogging for 50 lashes was overseen on January, whereas the second flogging has been postponed more than 12 times.
While blogs have been a major voice of social and political change elsewhere, in the West, lifestyle blogs are the trend. Lifestyle blogging on almost everything imaginable, from food to travel, had been on the rise in recent years and sustained their ever increasing popularity in 2015.
An example is Sarah Dawalibi, who started blogging back in 2009 as a means to keep her family and friends in France up to date on her voyages around the globe. Six years later, Le Blog de Sarah has become an immensely popular blog with around 30,000 monthly readers and is seen as an important travel reference by many in France.
Dawalibi said, “People have more confidence in a blog than in a travel magazine. Lots of readers ask bloggers for advice. They have a feeling that they know you, since when you blog, you reveal quite a bit about yourself.”
“With the surge in subscribers to Facebook and Twitter, the prominence of blogs begins to decline as the number of users on these social media platforms increase,” Antoinette Pole, a professor from Montclair State University in New Jersey, explained.
He is also an expert in political blogs.
He further added, “Currently, much more discussion and debate occurs through Facebook or Twitter. While blogs still exist, their popularity indeed appears to have waned over the last 3-4 years. That said, their utility is in their ability to provide greater depth, almost akin to a website. And, still some genres of blogs remain popular.”
Meanwhile, in the world of fashion, there are bloggers like Chiara Ferragni and Linda Tol, whose blogs have become almost as significant as established fashion magazines, if not even more. The popularity of their blogs is so huge that they have even been able to launch collections of their own.
Now that 2015 is almost over, we are looking forward to 2016. And there are highly optimistic reasons to keep blogging in 2016.
As Hongkiat.com wrote for 2015, “It’s a resume in action. It tells people that you know what you are doing.” This will still hold true for 2016.
Besides that, blogs are a very effective medium for networking. Blogs also make you a better communicator and help you learn new things. They also help you to increase your credibility. What’s more, blogs could also make you some money. So why not keep blogging, and if you haven’t started yet, why not start blogging?
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