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Online journals herald new direction for Net

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Posted: Monday, March 10, 2003 8:36 am

SAN FRANCISCO - The online diaries known as Weblogs, or ‘‘blogs,’’ seemed like a lot of inconsequential chatter when they surfaced a few years ago.

But as more people have embraced the concept, what once seemed like a passing fancy has morphed into a cutting-edge phenomenon that may provide the platform for the Internet’s next wave of innovation and moneymaking opportunities.

‘‘Just like the Internet was 10 years ago, blogging is popular with an underground culture that is doing it for the love and passion,’’ said Tony Perkins, who edited the recently folded Red Herring technology magazine and last month launched a business blog called Always On Network.

‘‘Now there are people like me coming along and trying to figure out how to package it,’’ Perkins said. ‘‘It’s time to take it to the next level.’’

Other notables seeking to capitalize on the rise of the Web’s so - called ‘‘Blogo - sphere’’ include Terra Lycos, America Online and Google.

Terra Lycos last month introduced publishing tools to help people launch their own blogs. America Online is expected to offer a similar service to its 35 million subscribers later this year.

‘‘We want to take what has been an underground phenomenon and introduce it to the masses,’’ said Charles Kilby, Terra Lycos’ director of product marketing.

Google, the maker of the Web’s most popular search engine, created the biggest blogging stir of late by snapping up San Francisco startup Pyra Labs, which runs the biggest network of Weblogs. Pyra’s has more than 1 million members, including 200,000 running active blogs.

The people self-publishing these blogs are an eclectic mix, from trendy teenagers discussing their body piercings to nerds swapping high-tech insights, celebrities sharing their everyday lives and activists staking out positions on Iraq.

While blogs are inherently personal, others offer an important communal element by soliciting reader feedback and providing links to other Weblog entries and content.

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