by Andrew Robinson 

You’ve probably heard, especially in the last year or two, the term ‘blog.’ Like a lot of internet — and tech­nology-related jargon, we hear it a lot at work or on the news, sometimes with little explanation. So what is a ‘blog’ and why do so many people find them interesting?

The first part is easy — web logs, or ‘blogs’ are merely online journals, usually updated semi-regularly by their authors, and even have community-building features built into them like searching, entry archiv­ing, and the ability to subscribe to the updates, making it easy for others who wish to follow what you write about. In just the last two or three years, web logs have grown into an internet staple, spawning podcasting and variations like video blogs. There are a number of web-based blog systems available, with Blogger being one of the biggest. At, a blog di­rectory service, there are over 55,000 individual blogs listed, with more being registered every day. Each blog system has their own set of instructions and features, but mainly they all operate in generally the same way: web browser-based tools, which to allow you to easily de­sign and write your own online journal.

So, why might this be so popular? Many blog sys­tems allow the uploading of digital picture and video files, making it ideal for the family and friends back home to read and see a bit about life here in Japan. One friend traveling overseas uses her blog to keep people informed on where and what she’s doing in a kind of ongoing travel journal. When checked every few days, her friends find something new and if we subscribe to her blog, her updates are sent to our com­puters via the syndication features of some modern web browsers. In business, some use blogs internally at their company for inter-department briefings and project planning, even allowing collaboration with co-workers in other offices around the world. The archiv­ing and search features inherent in most blog systems is especially useful for reading past project reports.

Since online blog systems require only a compu­ter and web browser with no other special software, an internet cafe can be all you need while traveling. At home or work, though, software like Blogjet for Win­dows or iBlog for Macintosh can help you with your blogging while not online and also provide much more variety in designs and features.

Andrew Robinson has been working in the IT field in Tokyo, in businesses ranging from small to interna­tional enterprises, for over ten years.