Blogs are everywhere these days. Celebrities have them, political candidates have them, businesses run them, and that is not even counting the literally millions upon millions of personal blogs out there. But just what exactly is a blog? What is this all about?

The word blog is short for “weblog,” coined back in 1997 to describe an online journal or diary. Interestingly enough the very first web page ever to exist on the World Wide Web was itself a blog, although the idea of “blogging” as we think of it today did not yet exist and would not exist for many years.

Two main elements make up a blog. One is the fact that there is a main page which is updated with new entries on a regular or semi-regular basis. You need never navigate from this main page, since all new entries are posted here (although there are often archives and the like for older entries). The second is that these blogs will often link to other blogs or other web pages in order to provide more information to the reader. Nowadays, of course, even more has gone into the world of blog creation: tags, for example, to separate entries out into various categories for easier navigation.

So what good is blogging? Many people see blogging as a way to express themselves to a potentially massive audience: the countless number of people who read the Internet every day. It could be a forum just to discuss their daily life, perhaps their political opinions or even share recipes. It is also a great social networking tool; friends and family can keep up to date as to what is going on in your life, even talk with you through the comments on the blog. You, of course, can do the same thing on their own blog.

Many businesses use blogs to keep customers informed as to updates on their web site, to their products, and news about their business in general. It is a powerful form of information delivery as blogs are easy to read and the newest and thus most relevant information is always at the top of the page.

Some of those engaging in blogging use it as a sort of personal column where they can share their ideas and opinions on everything from the business world to politics to education. A lot of people who will never pick up a newspaper get their daily dose of news and opinion not through mainstream outlets but rather through independent media such as blogs.

With blogging so popular, it has also become a tool for people to get consumers involved in their web pages by creating their own blogs or writing their own blog entries. Take, for example, presidential candidate John Edwards. He runs an official campaign blog and also allows his supporters to write their own blog entries onto a separate supporters’ blog. Blog entries which become popular enough and are ranked high enough can become included in the main campaign blog. It is an excellent way to increase interaction between supporters of Edwards and his campaign. By doing this he not only increases input from his supporters but his supporters also feel that they are an important part of the campaign process.

Blogging, then, serves many purposes. It can be a means of transmitting information. It provides a natural forum for online social networking. It can be a powerful part of a Web 2.0 platform seeking to increase user interaction with a web site. Blogging can do all of this and more.