By now the term 'blog' is common-place enough to not be mistaken for some kind of swamp creature from a B-rated movie. With so many news publications concerned about the future of professional reporting and the pervasiveness of citizen journalism, they seem to be chasing their own tail by writing about blogs even more. Well, add this column to the list of articles responsible for doing just that.
When it comes to reading blogs, you either get it or you don't. Those in the know have their favorite blogs they check out, often daily—from the popular techy über-blog Slashdot to politically oriented blogs Daily Kos and Wonkette. Somehow these folks just know innately what web address will lead them to the daily online scribbling of, say, the world of kickball (The Kickball Khronicles: http://rbi.ims.ca/4394-551).
But what about the rest of us? The tangled Web doesn't operate the way the logical alphabetized Yellow Pages work. But blog directories abound and you can easily find them with a simple Google search. Blogwise (www.blogwise.com) lists blogs by country and keyword and seems to be the most comprehensive. A search on "electrical engineering," for example, led me to EESteve (http://rbi.ims.ca/4394-552), a blog from an electrical engineering college student focused on the profession, the major, and Steve's journey toward grad school. Not bad for a college kid, especially since the list of latest posts includes such eye-catching topics as "Satan—the greatest electrical engineer of all time," "An engineer's pay," and "The 20 most important forefathers of the electrical science."
A search for blogs listed on Blogwise by country generally produces fewer blogs in other countries. Compare China's 289 blogs, for example, to the U.S.'s 24,053. These blogs offer insight from foreign countries that cannot possibly be gathered by U.S.-based observers. Angry Chinese Blogger (http://rbi.ims.ca/4394-553), for example, writes about politics, censorship, and human rights from the perspective of someone who has lived in China.
The blog searches are not limited by category and country, either. A newsletter for journalists, Poynter Online, tipped me on to Blogdigger (http://rbi.ims.ca/4394-554), which features a geographic search function for local blogs. When I typed in "engineer" in the "What" category and "Boston, MA" in the "Where" category, Blogdigger dug up more than 17 pages of Boston-area blogs with the keyword "engineer." One blog post, "Tribal Software Engineering," begins, "Imagine a corporate software development group where the entire group decided on its own way of working, rather than having a boss who was responsible for telling each individual what to do." Sounds interesting enough. Blogdigger also allows users to search by date or relevance. So, while Phoenix, AZ may or may not have any posts within the last two weeks on software engineering, it can be searched by relevance to pull up a year-old post on "Apple's Operating System" (http://rbi.ims.ca/4394-555). Though the geographic search feature may not be necessary in searching for engineering blogs, it certainly comes in handy for those times when you're checking out the locals, be it about an upcoming concert or a new Indian restaurant.
Thanks to Google—and the journalists who spread the word about blogs and the Web—even the most ignorant Web surfer can still keep up with the big guys of the blogging world.
Got a favorite engineering-related blog? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.