I spend so much time writing on how to move beyond Blog*Spot, and how to run a more professional blog, that I sometimes forget the importance of what Blogger.com calls “Push-Button Publishing.” And more often, I forget that I once was at a similar level to Blog*Spot users (though back then I hand-coded “GeoCities-style” HTML pages that probably looked worse than some of the Blog*Spot blogs…).
The internet is what can be called a “two-way medium.” This implies that anyone can create content and publish it online for others to consume, and they can do the same. You don’t just consume canned content provided by SuperMegaCorp, you can actually be involved in the publishing.
In contrast, TV and radio are one-way mediums. The evil supersized corporations (e.g. CBS, ClearChannel, ABC) own everything, and all you can do is consume the content they shove at you.
In the early days of radio and television, they were two-way mediums. Anyone with the expertise to build a radio transmitter and reciever could talk to other such people. (Give HAM Radio a try if you’d like to see what it’s like.) Then the FCC (or if you live outside the U.S., you probably have your own local equivalent) came along and sectioned everything off, licensing only a select few to broadcast. Then those companies merged and merged, eventually monopolizing the broadcast industry.
Free blog providers, like Blog*Spot and WordPress.com, help make the internet the two-way medium that it is. Anyone can set-up a blog and put their message online. That’s important. Very important. The ability for anyone to publish content to the internet is part of what makes it so special. Free blog providers put that ability into the hands of many more people, who wouln’t otherwise have blogs.
Yes, I know saying this sort of goes against my message that “you need a good design” and that “you should host your blog yourself.” But that message goes more toward people who want to become authoritative sources of information. If you’re not into all that, and just want a personal blog to put your thoughts out there for whoever, go ahead with Blog*Spot. I write more for people who want to write seriously and professionally, not personal bloggers. I’m not discounting personaly blogs, as I hope the above text has shown. I think they’re pretty important, since they put the power of web publishing in the hands of everyone, but I have to point out that there is a distinction between personal blogs, and blogs such as FreelanceSwitch, CNet, and this one. There’s a place for both types of blogs, and anyone can start one of either, but understand that creating a topical blog is an undertaking that requires careful planning, a bit more web experience, and a few dollars for a domain and hosting.