When we were asked to follow a local blogger (based in Ann Arbor, Michigan) as part of our Eco-Friendly Internship, it occurred to me that the concept of a blog has changed since they first entered the public view. Blogs began mostly as a method of personal expression, either standalone on sites like Blogger.com or as part of a MySpace profile. That was three years ago. In the time since, something called the “blogosphere” was born. I never really understood what that meant, since it implies that there’s some collected space where all blogs hang out. MP3 blogs got really popular, since people love being able to download a song or two and stay tuned in to what’s “cool.” Political blogs also boomed, not only as a response to mainstream media, but sometimes as a unique source of political news.
Today it seems that the majority of blogs exist as part of a business model. As a journalist and natural skeptic, I’m a little worried about that. It is great for companies and employees to get information out to the public, but it also blurs the lines between personal expression (i.e. – creativity), journalism (i.e. – seeking truth while documenting events), and public relations (i.e. – selling something…at least, most of the time).
One way to keep blogs valuable is to center them around a geographical community. The ArborWiki has an open list of local bloggers. For the Eco-Friendly Internship, I’ll be following Ross Johnson, co-owner of 3.7 Designs, a website design company in Ann Arbor. His Web Design Marketing Blog and Podcast features a unique, attractive appearance and seems to focus largely on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). For those not familiar with web development, CSS is a relatively new branch of coding for fonts, colors, and other front-end elements of a web page. Having just finished developing my own web site with HTML and a basic grasp of CSS, I’m hoping that Ross will have a lot to teach me on the subject.