This topic is on Blogs along with a focus on blogs authored by people in Oman.
To begin with, a Blog is a simple Web Log: a journal of commentary which may optionally include pictures, links and videos. For example a traveller might blog his experiences with his pictures and a company can blog its product news in a hope to receive useful feedback from the public. It is a form of free speech online and not complex for a newbie. Although there are about 9 million blogs online, only a portion of them are active and worth reading.
Blogs are easy to begin with cost nothing but your Internet connectivity and personal time. Create a unique username, secure with your password, name your blog, choose your layout, write your first post and there goes your blog live. But the key challenge is in regularly posting content and attracting visitors and engaging them in conversations. Most active blog readers also have their own blogs and network links. Blogger communities get together in real life through Blogger meet carnivals.
Blogs can be started by registering with blog-service providers at http://www.wordpress.com/, http://www.blogger.com/ , http://www.blogspot.com/, http://www.livejournal.com/ or even host one with the normal web-host domains. There are many widgets (software components) readymade that can be simply plugged into your blog to bring in more dynamic features.
Content and comments
Every piece of writing on a blog is called a post and the latest one shows in the main page. Bloggers tag their posts with keywords and now posts can be categorised based on these tags and also by date of post. Most often the layout is simple with a double frame: main one for the posts and right side panel for archives, links, flickr, youtube and other widgets. Just like websites blogs can send RSS feed links to its subscribers every time a new post is made. Interesting part of the posts is the comments other readers post in response. They can range from simple agreement to totally intolerant flaming wars.
Blogs give a forum for people who like to complain about issues in anonymity. There are experts who are authorities in their domain of knowledge or passion or even experiences and posts in such blogs are authentic and original. Over time these bloggers gain authority over a subject area. Each blogger links to other blogs that he commonly reads / responds. All ethics and net-etiquettes apply to blogs as well but freedom of speech does cross the thin line sometimes.
Fame with blogs
Blogs are basically a platform for citizen journalists and some of them have made their way to popularity through their posts. Notorious bloggers can get convicted for sensitive posts while authentic critics can even be welcomed to participate in corporate design and testing process. Influential bloggers are able generate revenue from advertisements and product reviews.
Types of blogs
Blogs tend to be more of personal reflections of people and so personal blogs are the most common. Apart from this there are certain thematic blogs such as travel, consumerism, health, music, celebrity news, beauty care, sports, automobiles, lifestyle, technology, quizzing, art, photography, cuisine, etc. Businesses can use blogs for marketing purposes and they are called corporate blogs.
Technorati which began in Dec 2007 is blog search engine which are indexes and ranks blogs based on their popularity and it indexes over 1.5 million new blog posts in real time. Bloggers pride their ranking in technorati and enrich the web with their personal reflections. A single number called ‘Authority’ is given to a blog and higher the authority the higher will your blog’s rating. Authority is based on the number of unique blogs indexed by Technorati that have linked to yours in the past 180 days.
Blog posts with sensitive content have caught the attention of legal authorities. There have been instances of blog being asked to be brought down due to political influence. Most convictions of bloggers are because of anti-government and anti-religious content. Sometimes defamation of famous people has been framed under libel cases and legal action has been taken against the blogs.
Blogs in Oman
In Oman both local and expatriates have blogs and this number could be anywhere between 50 and 75 and about 15% of the Fortune-500 companies in US have corporate blogs (quoting Kishore Cariappa an avid blogger). With over 1.4 billion people currently online, there are about 40,000 new blogs are created every day but only 0.1% of them are engaging (Quoting Sachin Toprani an eCommerce expert).
About 20 blogs in Oman are very active and their topics range from local news, current affairs, cuisine, travel, poetry, NRI experiences, technology, stories, thoughts and musings. Blogs in English from Oman are more active while in Forums the Arabic ones are more active. Most of these blogs have begun in 2004-05 and many of these are run by students.
Identity versus Opinions
Oman bloggers operate mostly under nicknames but however some of their identities in the real world are well known within the community. Posts normally bring out opinions of bloggers on news and current affairs while few bloggers would share their gossip stories anonymously. There is a lot of self-moderation in blogs of Oman due to the nature of general control over media content.
Blogs are increasingly popular because of their openness and authoritative content. As agreed by most bloggers, authentic and original content in a well presented format makes a blog successful. Just like normal media sensational news and gossip make posts famous and readers feel blogs are more personal and candid than other media. But over time a blogger gains reputation based on the genuinity of his posts about and his opinions. Just like websites, blog need to be marketed specifically through media and deep linking and networking with the blogging community.
As revealed in a recent seminar on blogs corporate blogs is very nascent in Oman. The oldest one must be the one run by PEIE - http://peie.blogspot.com/ (started in 2005) while the ones we knew about from the seminar are the ones by Khimji Ramdas group at http://khimjiblog.com/, http://bigbusinessidea.blogspot.com/ and the most recent (http://intilaaqah.blogspot.com/) which is perhaps the only Arabic corporate blog in Oman . The PEIE blog is actively marketing its services, members, events and for example the next Smart Manufacturing Conference section has reading matter about various seminar topics including books and recommended industry blogs.
Here are a few blogs to visit this week. Read a proposed bloggers code of conduct at http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/04/draft-bloggers-1.html.
Master the ‘Ten Tips for writing a blog post’ at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/12/30/tens-tips-for-writing-a-blog-post/.
To learn to promote your blog go to http://www.dailyblogtips.com/10-important-facts-of-blog-promotion/.
Read the Wordpress plugins directory at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ to better your blog.
To know the ‘What and Why of Blogging’, visit http://www.technorati.com/blogging/state-of-the-blogosphere/the-what-and-why-of-blogging/.
Notable Blogs from Oman - (In completely random order)