The art of blogging

Out of the bloodied bricks and burned-out buildings of war, new means of communication often rise. From smoke signals to radio to live news reports and satellite communication, wars have been a showcase for emerging forms of communication. This war is no exception, highlighting the rise of the Internet phenomenon blogging.

Blogs, derived from “Web logs,” are online journals maintained by dedicated individuals. Most are updated daily and some offer minute-by-minute accounts. Immensely popular blogs such as The Agonist and Slashdot have gained the attention of national media. The political potential of blogs has prompted China to censor and ban access to some of them. The most popular blogging site of late is Where is Raed?, which is reportedly maintained by an Iraqi civilian in Baghdad named Salam Pox. Reading much like “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Pox offers the Iraqi civilian viewpoint of the war. However, no new updates have been added since the beginning of intense bombing, prompting speculation that Where is Raed? is a creation of Saddam Hussein, Al-Jazeera or the CIA.

An estimated 111,000 blogging sites exist, according to, and that number keeps growing. Blogs in their purest form are honest laments from real people combined with a degree of interactivity through links and Internet multimedia. A sense of missing humanity in wartime pervades many recent blog startups – a desire to realize that war is more than the manipulation of tokens on a giant map. The current popularity of blogs could be a minor backlash to the parading professionals of wartime affairs.

However, the personalized aspect of blogs could, in turn, be their biggest setback, given the difficulty of verification – relegating many to the status of reality television. At their worst, blogs offer another source of escapism during a time of war. The information is also largely unfiltered and loosely edited, which creates credibility problems.

At least for now, blogging is a form of art – a voice not of advertisement but personal expression. But eventually the media makers and the popularity paparrazzi will catch on. Already many prominent bloggers have been courted by businesses to include links on their blogs in exchange for money or goods. Ultra-famous celebrities such as William Shatner are starting blogs, as well as political candidates. Here’s to hoping blogs remain in their age of innocence.