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Why All The Fuss Over Blogs

All the world is agog with blogs. In ease you were snoozing the past few years, a blog is a web diary or log. Sometimes, they are indistinguishable from personal diaries; sometimes, they focus on particular subjects, everything from food to personalities, music to film, economics to politics. "Blog" is actually short for "weblog". According to Wilapedia the free online, reader-created encyclopedia - "the term `weblog' was coined by Jorn Barger on Dee 17, 1997.

The short form, `blog', was coined by Peter Merholz. He broke the word weblog into the phrase `web log' in the sidebar of his weblog in April or May of 1999". And thus an age was born weblog, web log, we blog, blog almost as a stutter. It is altogether appropriate we got "blog" with the aid of "we", as in "We, the people". It is difficult to conceive of a more fittingly democratic etymology for so uniquely populist a phenomenon.

"Blog", in turn, spawned "to blog" (a verb); "blogging" ("authoring a blog, maintaing a blog or adding an article to an existing blog"); "blogger" (one who posts these entries); "blogrolls" (a collection of links to other weblogs"); "warblog" ("a weblog devoted mostly or wholly to covering news events concerning an ongoing war"); "blogosphere" ("collective term encompassing all weblogs or blogs as a community or social network"); even "blogtopia" (topia from Greek topos, place, thus utopia, from Greek ou plus topos, meaning no place, and now blogtopia, blog plus topos, presumably meaning an idealised blog-place); and "blogistan" (a play on the names of Muslim countries that end with stan, Persian for home or country, as in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now blog plus stan, presumably meaning blog-country).

Blogs have had a bad press, especially in the press. Blogistan is a country swimming with rumours, unvetted factoids and idle speculations, the critics say. Blogtopia is peopled with paranoids and psychotics. The blogosphere is full of self-indulgent exhibitionists. The mainstream press almost routinely adopts a negative attitude towards blogs and bloggers.

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said once that the short-term impact of any new technology tends to be overestimated, while its long-term impact is underestimated. Blogging is still in its infancy, and its impact is probably being exaggerated, chiefly by alarmists in the traditional media. And we cannot predict as yet what its long-term impact might be, for we lack the imagination to do so.

It is worth remembering that when Johann Gutenberg developed the movable type in 15th--century Europe, the initial reaction was one of horror in some quarters. Print will destroy "the invisible cathedrals of memory", it was said, for the wide availability of printed books would make unnecessary the representation of ideas and stories in images, like those seen in the stained-glass windows, frescoes and mosaics of churches.

In Plato's Phaedrus, we find the very invention of writing faulted in similar terms. The King of Egypt reproaches Thoth, the god who invented writing, telling him: "This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the eternal written characters and not remember of themselves."

Well, the alarmist King of Egypt overestimated the short-term impact of writing - and underestimated its long-term impact. We may be doing the same with blogging, the latest writing technology. According to Wikipedia, the blog hosting service Xanga alone had 50 million blog diaries as of December 2005. In 1997 it had only 100. 

Given such rapid growth, it is not surprising that the quality of blogs should vary widely. But then we might say the same of books, too - not to mention, newspapers and television stations, even of writing itself. In each instance, the lousy and indifferent far outnumber the good and distinguished. Would anyone wish one could disinvent writing as a results?

Bloggers, Don't Forget To Back Up

You have spent hours, and written volumes on your blog. Then, one day the worst thing imaginable happens - your online diary crashes. The good news is, that does not need to happen. Just as you take care to back up your photos, work and other important documents, you can and should do the same with blogs. Like other electronic information, you cannot assume that your journal is completely safe and will remain intact indefinitely.

Blogs or web-hosting providers may come and go. Hard disks on servers may fail. Malicious hackers might delete all your words and photos at will. might decide to migrate to another provider or blogging platform. Having a backup can make the transition smoother. Ultimately, having a backup simply means your journal has a higher chance at posterity. Here are some tips to help you accomplish this. 

Read The Documentation

There is no one single method to back up a blog, since there are literally hundreds of blogging platforms and providers out there. Read the documentation of your blogging software or the help section of your blog provider. If they already provide the instructions to backup your blog, it is fairly safe to follow them.

DIY

If you are hosting your own server and blog, check with your service providers to see if they generate automatic backups. Even if they do, it would be prudent to generate your own backups and download them to your computer. has a Cpanel control panel, you might be able to select "Backup" then "Full Backups". Your hosting provider should be able to regenerate your site and blog from these backups.

Do not panic if you cannot find any documentation or backup features. You can still get around such obstacles - just roll up your sleeves and do the backup manually. Just as you can save a web page for future offline browsing, you can save your blog pages too. But do not do it the slow way, opening each blog page and then saving them. Get a tool such as HTTrack, which allows you to save whole websites for offline browsing. These tools can automatically "crawl" your blog, saving and preserving the pages and link structure.

Two Birds With One Stone

Tired of service and site interruptions on your free blog provider? Get an offline blogging tool instead. These will allow you to compose your journals on the computer without the need to log into your blog. The good thing is that you can easily save a copy of your completed entry to your computer, then upload the entry to your blog. Certain tools such as w.bloggar also allow you to post to multiple blogs simultaneously, which in its way is a form of backing up as well.

Help! I Seem To Have Lost Everything!

If you don't already have a backup, and neither does your service providers, your last hope would lie in the caches on the web. How this works is that Google takes a snapshot of webpages as it crawls the web. If your blog has been cached into Google's servers, you could then retrieve the snapshot by following the link labelled "Cached" that appears beside the search result for your blog. Try googling for your own blog, and then follow Google's cached pages.

Where To Go For Help

HTTrack: http-://www.httrack.com
w.bloggar: http://wbloggar.com

Platform Specific Instructions

Blogger: http://help.blogger.com/biiVanswer-py?answer=130
Livejournal: http://www.hvejoumal.corWsupport/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=8

 

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