History of Blogging and Mass Communication
In May 2008 the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that 75 percent of Americans used the Internet. Among people between the ages of 18-29, the figure was 91 percent. These numbers indicate a rapid increase in the number of uses-across demographics that have embraced the Internet in the past decade. The Internet has now grown to become a major means of communication that rivals newspapers, television and other traditional sources as mainstream choice. Few would argue that the rise of digital communications and widespread access (by much of the world) to telecommunications and cable networks has had a profound impact on virtually every aspect of contemporary life. Today, worldwide, people have access to a variety of new communication options including: websites, email, blogs, music (MP3 files), voice/telephone, and video.
It is not just communication that has been influenced by the Internet; today e-commerce provides an alternative to bricks and mortar- retail stores. Online merchants have an outlet in the majority of American homes-through the Internet which allows consumers the convenience to buy goods via computer instead of going to a local store. Similarly, telephone companies have found they are losing customers to Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol services that offer unlimited long-distance calling for a fixed rate and video content is being downloaded and viewed by millions, posing a challenge to market share for traditional broadcast and cable television.
Perhaps no traditional "network" found itself more challenged by the Internet than newspapers and magazines. Print media represents a costly and labor intensive distribution model when compared to web publishing. The Internet can distribute the same article that is printed in the newspaper in a matter of minutes without the expense of type-setting, printing, and delivery.
The first impact of Gutenberg's printing press was to make production of books much cheaper than the old method of copying "manuscripts" by hand. Literacy levels increased as more people had access to books. As new ideas spread, it was much more difficult to exert control over the information that people had access to. Authorities, namely church and government, had much less control and influence as access to information increased.
Political authorities soon sought to control this distribution of knowledge, but not necessarily by shutting down the printing presses. Secular authorities recognized that printing could play an important role in persuading the public; the goal instead was to control what was printed. Three centuries later, America's founding fathers realized the danger that government control of free speech could present. Thus, the First Amendment to the Constitution was adopted which guaranteed "freedom of the press" as well as "freedom of religion."
Today, access to the personal computer and to global communications networks make it feasible for virtually anyone to publish his or her opinions on the Internet. Would-be Internet publishers don't even need to own a computer or pay for Internet access; public libraries, supported by tax dollars provide Internet access to rich and poor alike.
One of the newest forms of Internet communications is the Web log, or blog; blogs are easy and inexpensive (or free) to set up, and the offer a flexible venue for millions to post news, information and opinions. Blogs are the strongly influenced by their (authors) bloggers and can vary widely in style, presentation and level of credibility.