For people like me, ‘Blogging’ or Weblogs have become an essential part of the daily Internet news routine and this week, Google, which owns Blogger, the granddaddy of Weblog sites, finally gave the service a much needed facelift.

‘Blogging’ is now as much a part of the Internet dictionary as ‘Googling’ and if you ignore the argument that the great majority of Weblogs appears to be authored by seventeen year old girls in mid-western high schools, the eco-system of hundreds of thousands of different journals has become a fundamental aspect of the World Wide Web.

The conflict in Iraq played its own part in bringing Blogging into the public consciousness. During the bombing campaign, the Weblog of an individual working and writing from Baghdad, the Baghdad Blog, under the pseudonym, Salem Pax became internationally famous as a source of information on everyday life in the city under siege and at great personal risk to the author. More recently, there’s “The Religious Policeman”, an anonymous Weblog written by a well-connected Saudi from inside Kingdom which challenge orthodox thought in his own country, once again at great risk to the author. Iran also spouts Weblogs and China is trying very hard to control this new medium of expression among its own population, often with a little technical assistance from the very same companies that champion Internet freedom of speech from the safety of a boardroom in the United States.

Combine Blogging with ‘Newz Crawling’ and you’ll find the way in which you gather news has changed for good. Many leading news sites and an increasingly greater proportion of news Blogs now make content available in RSS, described as “A format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal Weblogs”.

Once information about each item is in RSS format, an RSS-aware program can check the feed for changes and react to the changes, so a news aggregator, like the popular Newzcrawler program can help you keep up with your favourite news sites and Weblogs, such as the BBC News by checking their RSS feeds and displaying new headline and summary items from each of them at a given refresh rate you define.

In my case, I no longer visit the web pages of many of the most popular IT publications. I use Newzcrawler, which will automatically spot a website with an RSS feed to aggregate their content into something that looks like an Outlook front-end with folders and previews. So the first thing I do over coffee in the morning is read my virtual paper which includes the personal Weblogs of leading , thinkers, writers, analysts and IT journalists, as well as the RSS feeds from the top news sites. This gives me true and real-time ‘information at my fingertips’ and avoids time wasted making website visits or watching intrusive flash-coded advertising displays; bad for the publication but great for me.

Blogging is changing the nature of news and it’s rapidly changing the nature of content in the IT industry. Many people now cut-out the publication middle-man and go straight to the source for their information, the written equivalent of George Michael posting his songs to the Internet and leaving-out the record company. How the publishing industry will deal with in future is an interesting question, when some of the most popular writers and columnists are attracting sufficient traffic to their own websites to make them standalone publications in their own right.

My advice is to try Newzcrawling, for your daily content. It’s cheap or mostly free and you’ll wonder how you ever had the time to wade through the ocean of digital information without it. You might even want to start your own Weblog too!


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