Lurking just beneath the surface of topical news websites like
CNN.com and Yahoo! News is a world of news bulletins and gossip
that relatively few Internet surfers know about — blogs.
Short for weblogs, blogs refer to “any website with the
newest content at the top,” says Rob Goodspeed, webmaster of
GoodspeedUpdate.com, winner of The Michigan Daily’s best blog
The site began after Sept. 11, when Goodspeed wanted to find out
more information regarding the tragedy. For more than a year, his
blog consisted of links to news stories surrounding the events,
especially its effects on the campus. In February 2003, Goodspeed
changed the format of his site to a more narrative style. It now
primarily focuses on issues concerning the local community rather
than external links.
With several updates and posts per day, Goodspeed carved a niche
between the local newspapers, campus resources and national media.
Visitors to the site are encouraged to respond to the posts
constructive ly to facilitate open dialogue.
In addition to timely posts, Goodspeed maintains a vast archive
of every update since September 2001, upcoming campus events and
links to local bloggers, University resources, news websites,
concert venues and even politicians.
Salaries for all University employees, timely MSA election
results and regular updates concerning secret-society membership
are just a few more features that GoodspeedUpdate.com provides.
Goodspeed also strives to report important campus information as
quickly as possible. For example, GoodspeedUpdate revealed the
names of members of Michigamua, one of the University’s
secret societies, just as the group started to make headlines in
the news. The site highlights special local events as well, such as
the upcoming Ann Arbor Book Festival. Goodspeed posts consistently
and keeps the community up-to-date with recent events.
On average, GoodspeedUpdate.com receives about 500 hits per day.
On more popular blogs, such as DrudgeReport.com, hits can amount to
several million per day. In fact, DrudgeReport.com was partially
responsible for originally leaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Most blogs are contributory in style, meaning that they rely and
thrive on the comments, suggestions and tips from visitors.
Goodspeed helped to establish ArborBlogs.com to serve as a
consortium for local bloggers.
Goodspeed encourages students to start their own blogs with free
services such as LiveJournal.com and Blogger.com. “Blogging
is easy to start but can be difficult to master,” Goodspeed
said. Several professors maintain both a personal blog and one
designed for their classes.
The blog community refers to itself as the
“blogosphere” and has been enlarging over the past few
months, especially among politicians and celebrities; even
President Bush has his own blog.
“As popular as blogs already are, most people don’t
know much about them. I think in the next few years blogs will
continue to grow in popularity,” Goodspeed predicted.
Furthermore, Goodspeed believes that the blog will “fill an
important role in the lives of most people.”
The future looks bright for blogging to become common practice,
especially as bloggers don’t have to follow the rules of
newspaper grammar and citing sources and can post articles,
opinions and random thoughts with ease and comfort.