The “blogosphere” is continuing to grow at an amazing pace. In fact, the number of published blogs is expected to double about every five months.
Right now, there is a new blog published every second, according to Technorati, the search engine that keeps track of Weblogs. In March there were over 7 million blogs, that number is now over 14 million.
Weblogs have become the homepages of the 21st century and are used for everything from sharing recipes, personal opinions and travel adventures, to the latest in political and economic news.
Blogs are also facing their share of controversy and praise. Reporters Without Borders recently published their “short list” of the seven best blogs out of 60, which won the “Freedom Blog Awards” for defending freedom of expression.
Winners (who are chosen by the public who vote for their favorite blogs) included “Shared Pains” which describes life in Afghan, and Mojtaba Saminejad, an Iranian whose blog is published in the Farsi language. (He received a two-year prison sentence in 2005 because of his blog). Another winner, Jeff Ooi, publishes the Malaysian blog “Screenshots” which is in English. Because he allowed a comment on his blog back in 2004 which reportedly “insulted Islam” according to authorities, he was also threatened with imprisonment.
This award marks the first year for the event, but Reporters Without Borders hopes to make it an annual one. The organization follows and reports on freedom of the press around the world.
In oppressive countries, such as Iran (which shut down almost all independent newspapers in 2000), blogs have provided a way for journalists and others to express themselves and share the latest news and happenings. But speaking up in such places often has serious consequences, such as one blogger in Iraq who was jailed by authorities after speaking up about what was simply a local problem.
China is another repressive area. Recently Chinese authorities declared that all bloggers had to register their blogs with them, or risk being shut down.
To help combat these and similar problems around the world, organizations are being set up to provide global support among bloggers for those who are being repressed.
One of the biggest controversies right now, is whether bloggers should receive “journalistic” status. Some people see blogs and bloggers as a kind of counterbalance to what they see as media arrogance, while others call them vigilantes. Recent events with Newsweek, CBS News and others have caused a division between the main stream media (MSM) and bloggers who feel the “truth is out there” and they want it told.
One thing both bloggers and the mainstream media agree on, is that things have been forever changed. The tools of mass media are no longer the property of the press alone, they’re also freely available to the people. What that means to us in the future, or what changes blogs will bring about to the way we receive and act on the news we get, no one really knows.
Not as controversial, blogs have also become a mainstream tool of large and small businesses everywhere.
Blogging provides a simple and low-cost method for businesses to stay in touch with their customers, get free publicity and build a business brand.
As technology continues to evolve, and the number of blogs continues to rise, it remains to be seen whether blogging will remain an effective business and marketing tool. But one thing is for certain – blogs are here to stay.