Did you know that Singapore recently hosted a blogging convention? Let that word roll around your tongue a bit: a convention. That’s how ridiculously huge the blogging phenomenon has become.
For better or worse, online journals are the voice of Netizens these days.
A portmanteau of the phrase “web log”, blogs can be a soapbox for opinions on current events, a place to post poetry and musings, or simply a dump for links that you want your friends to check out. It’s a flexible medium and, if you get past the self-absorbed nature of most blogs, it can be used in many interesting ways.
Credibility of blogs are already on the upswing. Izzy, a popular columnist
for Today, first came into prominence through her controversial blog
http://missizzy.org, while many internationally-acclaimed authors, like William Gibson (http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/archive.asp) and Neil Gaiman (http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/) regularly update their journals.
The question is, of course, which host works best? There are many to choose from, but only a select few are really user-friendly while still offering all the cool features to do whatever you want with your journal.
We made our way through a whole bunch and narrowed it down to the top ones. No need to thank us, but we expect a shout once your blog’s hit-count starts climbing.
LiveJournal’s (LJ) been huge with the international blogging community for some time now—and for good reason. Aside from an easy to use interface that includes great options like quick-linking to other LJ users and LJ cuts (which lets you “hide” parts of your post so that it doesn’t look so clunky on the main page), its biggest boon is definitely the “Friends” option.
This feature allows you to keep track of other LJ users’ posts, and vice versa. The option also means that only those on your approved “Friend” list can read your locked posts.
Navigation is a bit tedious though, with no clarity on where to click on for any particular function. The layouts of LJ blogs don’t really scream “inspirational” either, with a few rigid formats. Trying to customize it is a lesson in frustration for newbies.
At the end of the day, LiveJournal’s still a very popular choice, mostly among people who’ve been blogging for some time. It’s not completely undecipherable, but there are much easier hosts to start out your blogging life with.
User Friendly: ★★✩✩✩
Spread the Word: ★★★★★
To simply call Multiply a blog host is understating things a bit. More of an all-round personal site than exclusively a traditional blog, Multiply is fantastic for anyone who’s looking to do a whole lot more than just write about what they did on any particular day.
Featuring the option to upload videos, pictures and music—all in their own separate sections—Multiply is the kind of multimedia blog that we feel people need to pay more attention to. On top of the host, Multiply also works as a social networking site, keeping you in contact with your friends and, like LiveJournal, up to date of their postings.
Another great feature is that, if you’ve already got a blog running at LiveJournal or Blogger, you can simply syndicate it at your Multiply site, instead of starting a new one up from scratch.
The downside, however, is that Multiply’s layouts are pretty straightforward and dull. Nevertheless, if substance completely overshadows style for you, then this is certainly the host you’re looking for.
User Friendly: ★★★✩✩
Spread the Word: ★★★★★
Probably the most popular host among local users, Blogger is perfect for newbies looking to set up their own little place in cyber space. As far as user-friendliness is concerned, Blogger delivers in spades, making it easy for users to navigate. Updating your journal’s a cinch; the interface is very similar to Microsoft Word, so there’s a great sense of familiarity. Heck, it even comes with its own spell-check option.
As for customizability, you need to know a bit of HTML (or at least know where to get the kind of layouts you’re looking for) if you want to move away from the templates, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward.
Getting word out to your friends about your blog, however, rests solely on you. Unlike LiveJournal and Multiply, there’s no real community feel to Blogger.
A great host that’s much more flexible as far as aesthetics are concerned, it’s easy to understand why Blogger’s gained such a following.
User Friendly: ★★★★✩
Spread the Word: ★★★✩✩
Xanga takes LiveJournal’s “Friends” concept a little further, by making your journal part of blog rings—communities specific to the type of topics you blog about. It’s a keen little feature that certainly makes it easier for you to scope out blogs that appeal to your particular interest.
Updating is relatively simple, and, while the potential to personalize your blog isn’t as fantastic as Blogger’s, Xanga’s templates are still pretty gorgeous and varied.
All in all, Xanga’s for a particular kind of blogger. Casual users would probably grow tired of it after a while.
User Friendly: ★★★★✩
Spread the Word: ★★★★✩
We’d recommend Blogger if you’re just starting out. It’s the easiest to get used to, and the most fun to play with, as far as designs go. Most people would progress on to LiveJournal for the “Friends” option, but we’d suggest Multiply instead, especially if you’ve got ambitions to move beyond simple text posts. Xanga would probably be best if you’re blogging on one particular subject, but it doesn’t really offer much otherwise.
The Internet has always been rife with seemingly nonsensical jargon, and when blogging exploded onto the scene, a new dialect of online-speak naturally started popping up. Here’s a quick cheat sheet, so you don’t look like such a newbie when you get started.
Dooced was a term coined when graphic designer Heather B. Armstrong was notoriously fired due to work related posts in her blog at http://dooce.com. Since then, if you’ve been sacked for posting nasty little things or secrets about your company, as far as the blogging community is concerned, you’ve been dooced.
Memes are either online quizzes you post on your blog from websites like Quizilla (http://quizilla.com/), or “surveys” that are designed to give your readers an overview of who you are. For the latter, you’re usually expected to pass on the meme to another blogger to keep it circulating. This is called “tagging”.
Moblogs are blogs with content that are mostly posted from a mobile phone via SMS and MMS. Interesting fact: For last year’s National Day, Singapore apparently started the world’s first national moblog. Check it out here: http://moblog.ndp.org.sg/main/index.asp.
NSFW stands for “Not Safe for Work.” You will probably find this headlining an LJ cut or link that’ll take you to something obscene or crude. You might not want to open it in the office and save it for when you get back home.
Podcasts are blogs that consist predominantly of audio entries. With the right software, you can have a podcast syndicated straight to your MP3 player. The format’s already huge overseas, but it’s just in its infancy here, with only a handful of locally-based podcasters.