As bloggers from around the world participate in the BOBs Awards starting on Sept. 17, you may be asking yourself: "What the heck is a Weblog?" Konstantin Klein gives his answer here.
Here's a tip: Just don't ask anyone what a blog actually is. The chances are good that you won't get any smarter from the answer. Because you'll likely either ask someone who has never heard the term before and frankly admits that, or you'll ask someone who has his or her own blog. That's even worse.
But let's just get to the facts. "Blog" is a term that first began to appear on English Web sites in the late nineties. It melts together the words "Web" as in Internet and "log" as in book. In other words, it's a logbook of a person journeying through the World Wide Web. Bloggers log interesting observations from their journeys in the log and because the same log is available on the Net, anyone can read it. In order to give the reader something to observe, too, links referring to the subject of the log should also be included -- mostly to other Web sites, and the link is no problem. In order to make a Web log a Weblog, the entries also have to be updated -- just like a logbook.
See, that wasn't so hard!
The real problem starts with the Web loggers. Because they are, even if they would try to distance themselves from disgust or indignation, not really any different from other people with hobbies, like Golf GTI collectors or postage stamp collectors or dachshund enthusiasts.
In other words: They have their own way of producing a Weblog, washing a GTI, peeling off a stamp or feeding a dachshund. They know what they're doing, and everyone else is just an amateur.
But don't let anyone know where you got that from!
The consequences are bad enough. Not only because a holy war has practically developed in the German-speaking world over whether to they should be called "Weblogs" or whether they should be called "Blogs" (But here's an insider tip: it's called a "Weblog"!), or whether a Weblog must have a certain number of links in order to differentiate itself from a Web diary (Insider tip: I have no idea!) or whether a Web diary can even be called a Weblog! (Insider tip: No! Of course! Never! But surely! Absolutely never! &%$$#@$** &%$&$@!).
In addition, there's also the technical discussion about whether a Weblog should be produced using blogging software, in the homelike surroundings of a blogger community, or whether it would be better to have individually installed and customized technology that runs, if possible, off a person's own server.
Unwritten Weblog Rules
And finally, there are unwritten rules for bloggers that require a little self-confidence to break. To a certain extent, every Weblog has to feature pictures of cats every week and they have to link at least once a week to an article that either proves or refutes the idea that Weblogs are the form of "grassroots journalism." They have to be redesigned at least twice a year, and at least once a year they need to be closed again due to apathy.
But fortunately that's all a bit exaggerated -- even if only a little bit. For Weblogs are nothing more than regularly updated, very subjective, often demonically funny, sometimes even literary and not too seldom political Web sites that are made, cultivated and written by individualists who have something to say and, for the most part, can express themselves well. Weblogs are not news sources. Instead they offer commentary about the world and the personal state of the author. And in this sense, it's also true that they are hyperventilating, hyper-babble of the hyper -- the simplest, fastest and cheapest possibility to reach an audience of millions.
... because the success of a Weblog is quite dependent on the abilities of the writer. If you want to try yourself, but don't know anything about the technology at work backstage in your Web browser, then you can also attempt it by opening up an account at services like Blogger.com, Typepad.com or Salon.com.
If you've already heard of HTML and don't mistake FTP for a German political party, then you can also set up an account with a Webhoster, install a program like moveabletype.org, pmachine.com (both available free in their simplest versions), nucleuscms.org, wordpress.org or textpattern.com and just start typing. Once your Weblog (not blog) is up and running, nothing more will be standing in the way of your career as a one man or one woman media company.