Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Predictions 2006: Blogs and Beyond

This is the first post in my “Predictions 2006” series. The aim is to make some predictions, based on trends, about the future of libraries, archives, Web technologies, electronic records management, digital preservation, etc. I make these predictions with a mix of reflection and spontaniety.

Today, I’ll make a prediction on blogs (since the DIGITAL Archive is a blog, it’s a great place to start).

Back in the mid-1990s, while I was a student in university, there was something that every Web-savvy person I knew had: a personal homepage. Remember those? They were basic HTML web pages with text (usually about the author of the web page), a few pictures (usually of the author and his or her family members and pets), some animated GIFs here and there, plus a few hyperlinks to other web pages, usually of friends that had a homepage as well. I made a few personal homepages. I think we all made a few personal homepages back then.

Homepages were fun and relatively easy to make once one had learned a few basic HTML tags. The author simply had to set up a few tables (border=”5”, typically), then write up some text, post a few pictures, add a few hyperlinks, upload the HTML file to a server, and—voila!!—one had a genuine presence on the World Wide Web.

Fast-forward to 2003, when I first encountered a weblog (or blog, the swampy-sounding name derived from the original term). Initially, the blog seemed to me like another web by-product --essentially, another version of the ubiquitous personal homepage.

But once I started dabbling with Blogger (a free online blogging website) in 2004 (and others, like WordPress, more recently), I realized the blog was clearly more than a personal homepage. First off, a blog did not require extensive knowledge of HTML. It was a publishing and content management tool for the masses, a venue where personal thoughts can be shared with the public, where knowledge shared can become collaborative efforts, and where shared interests can form relationships.

Personal homepages and blogs do have one thing in common: They both contain content created or linked by a user. And it is this common ground—content—which I believe can help shed light on the future of blogs.
Over the years, personal web publishing platforms have evolved, from personal homepages (, for example) to personal blogs (, for example), and I predict this trend will continue, this time evolving from personal blogs to networked blogs—a thinking blog, basically—one where content becomes more meaningful to other blogs and users and is more easily discoverable by search engines.

The future of the blog, I believe, will be about making the user's content more powerful, more searchable, more meaningful, more proactive to create a more personal blog experience. We already see some of this with blogs and RSS feeds. Blog updates are pushed to RSS feed subscribers. The contents of a blog are not static, sitting around waiting for something to occur; they are active and will become more active, triggered manually by users or by advanced search queries and more powerful RSS features.

Blog platforms will change (perhaps even renamed), but the clearer communication of content (of ideas, information, thoughts, comments, opinions), from author to reader, will be at the forefront in the coming year.

1 comment:

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Yes, a blog is like a personal homepage and can be as personal as one likes. I tend to equate them to being like a newsletter, but a personal homepage is better. Thank you!

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.