I don’t blog much myself, about a post a week on Myspace, usually when I’m really excited about something or just furious (most recent post was about IE7 and what a nightmare it is for the web developers). Blogs I usually read I stumble upon accidentally when searching for something work-related. A lot of web developers post blogs with their new creations, tutorials, and solutions to common web design/development problems. Anyone can post these things for free and share them with the world. The best part about these things – at least, to me – is that other people can comment on the new design, tutorial or solution so that future readers/users can learn from it.
For instance, something I run into often is when searching for a certain CSS solution (I’m a CSS newbie…) I find somebody’s blog, which describes in detail how to achieve a certain effect, but before I even test their code, I can read in the comments that the code doesn’t validate (which leads to SEO problems, and problems with the way it is displayed across different browsers). It is twice as informative and saves time.
Of course, the same thing is possible through forums, but blogs are a lot more personal. If I like a design I saw in someone’s blog, I can go through previous entries to see that person’s other designs, what they say about them, and what others say about them. I also found it easier to contact bloggers than random forum users. Probably because a blog is basically a diary which one chose to share and doesn’t necessarily require a response, when a forum post is made for the sole purpose of receiving feedback. When you read a blog, you don’t feel obligated to comment, you do so (at least, I do so) only if the post was interesting enough for one to comment on it. In a forum, there is a feeling that the question/post was directed at the general public, not “you” in particular, so you don’t feel that connection. But a blog – first you have to find that article, read it (which is usually longer than an average forum post), and then decide to comment.
Before blogs (and forums), you could only read articles or books written by people who paid to produce them, but having the ability to publish an article online incurring almost no cost enables virtually anyone to share their thoughts, research, opinions, etc. Also, something you can’t do with a newspaper or a magazine – you can’t reply to an article and have other people read your reply. Sure, some magazines do post readers’ replies in future issues, but you have no guarantee that yours will ever be printed. With blogs everyone is heard (unless of course your post is offensive and the blogger deletes it). And not only can you comment on a post, you can blog about that blog post.
Although we are no longer limited to writing on paper, one thing is still the same – blogs (like newspaper and magazines) rely mostly on written word, which is sometimes supported by imagery and – in blogs – video. Text blogs seem to be more successful and widespread than photo- or videoblogs probably because everyone has the ability to write, but not everyone can take a picture or create a video. We still rely mostly on text and we still cite our sources.