Blogs. For those uninitiated with the ways of the Web, the word may sound like the name of the latest sci-fi creature. And while blogs are hardly considered biological entities, they have come to monstrous life online.
Like most online creations, the exact definition of "blogs" is still very much in flux. At its very basic, blogs -- or "Web logs" -- are literally online diaries with articles, writings, photos, Web links or other entries made by the blogs' creators, or "bloggers."
The entries are typically listed in reverse chronological order where the most recent entry is on top and older "news" or musings can be found by scrolling down the Web page.
Most blogs allow readers to leave their own comments or links to topics and other Web sites relevant to the entry or the blog's topical focus. Typically, this interactive nature allows bloggers to refer to each other's blogs, creating so-called "blogospheres" -- groups of blogs centered around specific themes, topics or interests.
Like the World Wide Web, blog types can run the gamut in terms of topics and styles.
The simplest are the text-only blogs created by individual Web surfers to post their own eclectic and varied thoughts. But others -- such as political parties, religious and professional groups, businesses, and media organizations -- have caught the blogging craze, too. Most often, these blogs contain various forms of multimedia content (digital videos, photos, audio) and postings that rival those found in traditional print or broadcast outlets.
The rapid pace of technology is changing the nature of blogs, too.
The popularity of digital audio players such as Apple's iPod has spurred the growth of blogs with audio content. Downloading these audio blogs -- more commonly known as "podcasts" -- is the equivalent of radio "on demand." Visitors can choose and download a wide range of audio files -- including music, talk radio-like commentaries and lectures -- and then listen to them at their convenience using a PC or a portable media player.
The rapid adoption in the United States of cell phones with built-in digital cameras and wireless Internet connections is also changing the face and pace of blogging, as well. Bloggers armed with these tools can snap a picture, write a short caption and then post it on a "moblog" or mobile log, regardless of time and place.
A simple search for "blogs" on any search engine will most likely turn up a slew of listings. To access and participate in ABCNEWS.com's blog, click here.
There are plenty of Web sites that will allow you to easily set up your own blog. Some charge a monthly fee while others are free.