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Blog Evolution

Evolution of Blogging

Updated on Mar 03, 2020

Evolution of Blogging: To look back in time and understand how blogging evolved from "Weblog" to "Microblog".

The Early Age

It's been over two decades first blog was published into internet, let us go through some the legendary blogs which are worth re-calling in this past paced hi-tech age.

Justin Hall, while he was a Swarthmore College student in 1994 published the first blog on Links.net. Of course, at that time they weren’t called blogs, and he just referred to it as his personal homepage.

Another early blog was Wearable Wireless Webcam, an online shared diary of a person's personal life combining text, video, and pictures transmitted live from a wearable computer and EyeTap device to a web site in 1994. This practice of semi-automated blogging with live video together with text was referred to as sousveillance, and such journals were also used as evidence in legal matters.

In 1998 first known instance of blog came on the traditional news site, published by Jonathan Dube , he blogged about Hurricane Bonnie for The Charlotte Observer.

“Weblog” was shortened to “blog” in 1999 by programmer Peter Merholz. It’s not until five years later that Merriam-Webster declares the word their word of the year.

The original blogs were updated manually, often linked from a central home page or archive. This wasn’t very efficient, but unless you were a programmer who could create your own custom blogging platform, there weren’t any other options to begin with.

During these early years, a few different “blogging” platforms cropped up. LiveJournal is probably the most recognizable of the early sites.

And then, in 1999, the platform that would later become Blogger was started by Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan at Pyra Labs. Blogger is largely responsible for bringing blogging to the mainstream.  

The Growing Phase

The early 2000s were a period of growth for blogs. In 1999, according to a list compiled by Jesse James Garrett, there were 23 blogs on the internet. By the middle of 2006, there were 50 million blogs according to Technorati‘s State of the Blogosphere report. To say that blogs experienced exponential growth is a bit of an understatement.

Political blogs were some of the most popular early blogs. Some political candidates started using blogs during this time period, including Howard Dean and Wesley Clark.

One important event in the rise of blogging was when bloggers focused on the comments U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said regarding U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond in 2002. Lott, while praising Thurmond, stated that the U.S. would have been better off if Thurmond had been elected President in 1948. During that race, Thurmond was a strong supporter of racial segregation (though his position changed later in his political career). The mainstream media didn’t pick up on the comments and their potential implications until after bloggers broke the story.

In-depth topic blogs were also becoming more popular during this time. They often delved much deeper into current news and pop culture than mainstream media sources, in addition to commenting directly on what traditional media was reporting.

By 2001, there was enough interest in blogging that some how-to articles and guides started cropping up. Now, “meta blogs” (blogs about blogging) make up a sizable portion of the most popular and successful blogs out there.

A number of popular blogs got their start in the early 2000s, including Boing Boing, Dooce, Gizmodo, Gawker (the first major gossip blog to launch), Wonkette, and the Huffington Post. Weblogs, Inc. was started by Jason Calacanis in 2003, and was then sold to AOL for $25 million. It was that sale that helped to cement blogs as a force to be reckoned with rather than just a passing fad.

A couple of major blogging platforms got their start in the early 2000s. Version 1.0 of Movable Type was released in September of 2001.

WordPress was started in 2003, though parts of its development date back to 2001. TypePad was also released in 2003, based on Movable Type.

Some peripheral services to the blogosphere also started in the early 2000s. Technorati, the first major blog search engine, was launched in 2002. Audioblogger, the first major podcasting service, was founded in 2003. The first video blogs started in 2004, more than a year before YouTube was founded.

Also launched in 2003 was the AdSense advertising platform, which was the first ad network to match ads to the content on a blog. AdSense also made it possible for bloggers without huge platforms to start making money from when they first started blogging (though payments to low-traffic blogs weren’t very large).

Once bloggers started making money from their blogs, the number of meta blogs skyrocketed. Bloggers like Darren Rowse (of Problogger.net and Digital-Photography-School.net) and John Chow made sizable amounts of money telling other bloggers how they could turn blogging into a full-time career.

One early event that highlighted the rising importance of blogs was the firing of Heather Armstrong, the blogger behind Dooce, for comments posted on her blog regarding her employer. This event happened in 2002, and sparked a debate over privacy issues, that still hasn’t been sufficiently put to rest by 2011.

Dooced” became a slang term to describe being fired from one’s job for something you’ve written on your blog, and has made appearances in Urban Dictionary, and even on Jeopardy!

The Matured Phase

By the mid-2000s, blogs were reaching the mainstream. In January of 2005, a study was released saying that 32 million Americans read blogs. At the time, it’s more than ten percent of the entire population. The same year, Garrett M. Graff was granted White House press credentials, the first blogger ever to do so.

A number of mainstream media sites started their own blogs during the mid to late 2000s, or teamed up with existing blogs to provide additional coverage and commentary. By 2004, political consultants, candidates, and mainstream news organizations all began using blogs more prominently. They provided the perfect vehicle for broadcasting editorial opinion and reaching out to readers and viewers.

Mainstream media sources are also teaming up with existing blogs and bloggers, rather than just setting out on their own. Take, for example, the regular posts on CNN.com from Mashable editors and writers. Another good example is the purchase of TechCrunch and associated blogs by AOL, which, while not a traditional media source, is one of the oldest internet companies still in existence.

During this time, the number of blogs grew even more, with more than 152 million blogs active by the end of 2010. Virtually every mainstream news source now has at least one blog, as do many corporations and individuals.

The Rise of Microblogs

A lot of people only think of Twitter when they think of microblogging, but there are other microblog (also called tumblog) platforms that allow for a more traditional type of blogging experience, while also allowing for the social networking features of Twitter (like following other bloggers).

Tumblr was the first major site to offer this kind of service, starting in 2007. They allow for a variety of different post types, unlike traditional blogging services, which have a one-size-fits-all post format (that allows users to format their posts however they want, including adding multimedia objects).