THESE days it seems like everyone with Internet access is producing a blog, and many have cropped up here in Costa Rica. Some people blog about what it’s like to live here, others blog about growing orchids and still others blog about the government. Whatever the subject, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of bloggers in the country, and certainly millions of bloggers around the world. Their home is the World Wide Web, and they are not hard to find if you are willing to seek them out.
Short for “Web log,” a blog is basically a noncommercial –though corporate and business blogs are increasing rapidly – or personal Web site, with the author’s latest entry usually found at the top of the page. An active blog is updated regularly and contains a person’s views on any number of subjects. It may contain links to other blogs and Web sites that have similar content or help reinforce the blogger’s views.
Blogs differ from online journals, and purists remind us not to confuse them. An online journal describes a person’s life and generally looks inward, while a blog is more about the world and a person’s reaction to it. A blog may describe a college student’s daily life and opinions on current events. It may serve as a concert diary for a musical group. It may provide views on the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) or the war in Iraq. The possibilities are infinite.
A quick search on Google reveals some 21 million hits as a result of searching on “Iraq War blogs.” Searching on “Costa Rica blogs” results in about 4 million hits, though a search on “CAFTA blogs” reveals a paltry 365,000 hits. In 2004, searching on the term “travel blog” revealed 2.5 million hits; a year later it was nearly 64 million hits. Blogging is big, and getting bigger.
Blogs fall into several categories, roughly encompassing the media, personal discussions (really, these are online diaries), politics, travel, health, religion, education, legal issues, literary discussions, culture, research, business, science, Internet and directories –blogs that help people find things on the Web. Then there are blogs that don’t appear to fit any category or overlap a few categories –these are simply called “eclectic” by blog experts.
An interesting genre of blog is known as the “personification blog,” in which the blogger speaks for his dog or cat or any nature of beast, the assumption being that the blogger knows what his or her pet is thinking (see http://indyscorner.blogspot.com/ for an example). Look out for “splogs,” or spam blogs, which, like spam e-mails, are essentially high-pressure advertising ploys.
FOR the visitor to Costa Rica and certainly for residents, blogs can be a good resource – if not necessarily relied on as factual. Blogs are not fact-checked news articles or reports prepared by journalists and are not intended to be – although it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between professional and amateur bloggers. However, a blog may help readers in a number of ways, such as describing a new and interesting spot to visit that may not be in the typical travel guide, or offering comments on a new restaurant and providing a link to the restaurant’s Web site.
The trials and tribulations a parent went through to find a good American school here for her child was the subject of a blog. It wouldn’t be surprising to find a blog that describes Costa Rica’s bumpy roads. If you are looking for a blog on a particular subject, go to Google’s blog search engine at http://blogsearch.google.com/ and type in a subject of interest. You’ll be amazed at the variety of blogs you’ll find.
EXPATRIATE residents of Costa Rica maintain several blogs that might be of interest to Tico Times readers. “Jacqueline,” who lives in San José, offers juicy tidbits about local restaurants, travel, politics, books, love and more at http://jacquelinepassey.blogs.com/blog/. Then there’s “The Compulsive Explainer” at http://www.halsmith.info/wordpress/, covering all sorts of subjects, from the impact of CAFTA on Costa Rica to getting a baked ham here.
“Sand Cruiser Journal” at http://www.sandcruiser.com/blog/ describes a young couple’s life in Playa Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast, stating their intention of “working towards permanent traveler status someday.” Another fun blog is “Moving to Costa Rica,” at http://kingnerd.blogspot.com/, about “the story of a boy, a girl and a cat moving to Costa Rica.” And then there’s mine, at http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/AndrewNCosta-Rica/, documenting my experiences moving to the country and living and running a bed-and-breakfast here.
Of course, there are also several Spanish-language blogs written by Costa Ricans on a wide variety of subjects.
It’s easy to start a blog by hopping on the Web and setting up a free account offered by numerous blog sites, such as blogspot.com,xanga.com, travelblog.org, blogger.com, blogs.com, bloglines.com and many others. Just remember to tell your friends howto find your blog – though even if you don’t, chances are they’ll find you, along with many others.
See you in the blogosphere!