Monday, September 19, 2016


Some readers have written to me to say that I have not been very active in posting blogs of late. True - I have been terribly busy doing this and that. So, until I am more free to write, I would like to reproduce the following article I wrote for The Druk Journal - recently released.

Here it will be reproduced in two parts - to keep the overall length short.

The “blog” as we know it now, was started as a personal homepage by a Chicago born student named Justin Hall in January of 1994. Credited to be the world’s first ever blog - ( - it is still in existence.

During its initial days, a blog was known as “Weblog” - to mean “logging the Web”. The term was coined in 1997 by Jorn Barger of Yellow Springs, Ohio, USA. In 1999, programmer Peter Merholz introduced the present term “blog”.

According to a list compiled by the San Francisco based information architect Jesse James Garrett, there were only 23 blogs as of 1999. It was not until the year 2004 that blogging really took off – so much so that Merriam-Webster declared the term “blog” the Word of the Year. That number grew to 50 million blogs by the middle of 2006. By end of 2010, the number of active blogs grew to 152 million. By end of 2011, that number had swelled to 181 million blogs. The exponential growth of the blog has been nothing short of extraordinary.

A survey conducted in 2005 showed that in the US alone, 32 million people read blogs – roughly 11% of the population.

The first recorded “casualty” of blogging has to be a lady named Heather Armstrong, a Los Angeles web designer. She got fired for writing about her job on her blog – ( Since then, anyone getting into trouble for writing something on his/her blog came to be described as being “dooced” for it.

Each blogger has his/her own reasons for blogging. Some use it to record their thoughts and to keep an account of what they did and what they saw and what they felt, at a particular moment in time. Some use it to sell products and others use it to champion a cause. Some use it for education and yet there are others who use blogs as a tool of propaganda. Whatever it is used for – the blog is certainly a powerful tool. A popular blog can shape opinions and alter the very course of events.

Good thing about blogging is that there is no law prohibiting it – bad thing is that not all blogs are meaningful or consequential. And yet, the only person who can set a standard on the blog is the blogger himself/herself – no one else may define the blog’s ethical or moral standards.

Social media, of which blogging is an important part, is a powerful social instrument of communication that can influence and shape human behavior and attitudes. The modern society’s everyday life is largely entwined with the Internet - so much so that even love lives are constructed over the social media and its many channels.

The interactive nature of the social media makes it lot more effective than the traditional media - the print and visual media. Unlike the television or newspaper that are one-way communication channels, the social media permits instant two-way communications. Because its reach is truly international, the social media can convey messages and ideas instantly and over continents.

Social media is used all over the world to champion environmental, political, and social causes. It has caused governments to fall and instigated social unrest and disruption to peace and social harmony. But it has also helped maintain transparency among bureaucrats and politicians. It has helped good governance.

In Bhutan, activism through the social media has helped stop the destruction of White-bellied Heron habitat in Phochhu, Punakha, few years back. But we have not been entirely responsible in the use of social media. Some in Bhutan have used it to malign people and cause discomfort to many. Thus, social media can be both a boon as well as a bane - depending on how it is used.
..................... to be continued

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