Dispatches From Blogistan

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the book
Dispatches From Blogistan
by suzanne stefanac
peachpit/new riders
voices that matter series
shipping now
> amazon
> barnes & noble
from the book
> table of contents
> chapter 2 history of open discourse
> chapter 6 history of journalism
> 10 blog design tips
> what is this long tail?
> trackback demystified
> blog ethics primer
> glossary
> resource hotlinks


> cory doctorow

> farai chideya

> bruce sterling

> denise caruso

> craig newmark

> jamais cascio

> laura lemay

> christian crumlish

> jon lebkowsky

file: glossary

10.6.05 @ 10:56:43 pacific

Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. n. Web development technique that combines HTML, CSS, XML, and JavaScript to generate dynamic interactive web-based applications that update page elements incrementally without having to reload the entire page. Examples: Gmail, Google Maps, and Flickr. [Coined in 2005 by Jesse James Garrett.]

04.25.06 @ 01:01:44 pacific

n. A set of step-by-step operations that accomplish a specific task. Search engines use sophisticated algorithms to determine a web page’s rank within search returns. [From Medieval Latin algorismus, a poor transliteration of Muhammad ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi, the ninth-century Baghdad mathematician who introduced the concept to the West.]

anchor text
05.8.06 @ 04:17:13 pacific

n. A word or phrase on a web page that constitutes a hyperlink. Used by some search engines in the calculation of rank for a web page.

05.8.06 @ 04:16:43 pacific

n. Web. An XML-based format used to generate a newsfeed. Blessed by the IETF, Atom is the most likely successor to the more popular but less flexible and no-longer-updated RSS format.

bad neighborhoods
04.27.06 @ 12:06:27 pacific

n. Web. Websites that sell or exchange unrelated links to artificially raise search rank scores. Search engines seek out these sites, sometimes called link farms, and penalize web pages that link to them.

05.8.06 @ 04:15:03 pacific

n. Software. Traditionally, a limited period of time during which a select body of users test commercial software before public launch or the release of major updates. Web 2.0. Used to describe browser-based services, generally free of charge, that launch and remain in a development phase, openly soliciting user input and making constant, incremental changes to the infrastructure, feature set, and interface. Sometimes called perpetual beta or live prototyping. Examples: Flickr, Froogle, and Gmail.

05.7.06 @ 01:26:46 pacific

n. An easy-to-update website characterized by dated entries displayed in reverse chronological order. Originally, text-based and written in an informal, conversational style, blogs increasingly feature audio, photo, and video content. Bloggers often link to other blog entries, encourage comments, engage in collaborative tagging schemes, and otherwise contribute to social networks and user-generated databases. [Coined in 1999 by Peter Merholz as a contraction for web log.]

05.8.06 @ 04:18:05 pacific

n. Term used to describe better-known bloggers. Sometimes called blognoscenti or blogsnobs.

05.8.06 @ 04:20:18 pacific

n. A list of links to other blogs that bloggers regularly visit or with whom they’ve exchanged links. [Related to the American political term logrolling, meaning reciprocal legislative support; also from Spy magazine's use of the term to describe reciprocal reviews by book authors.]

05.8.06 @ 04:20:50 pacific

n. A small web browser extension that allows a user to access a web-based service from a browser bar or tab. Sometimes called a favelet.

Boolean logic
05.8.06 @ 04:21:35 pacific

n. Search. A technique that allows a user to refine search parameters by including operators such as AND, OR, and NOT. Examples: blogosphere OR blogistan; ravens NOT crows. [Named for nineteenth century mathematician George Boole.]

05.8.06 @ 04:22:47 pacific

Abbreviation for robot. n. Small, artificial intelligence software programs that run automatically and act autonomously. Example: Search engine spiders.

12.4.05 @ 11:12:58 pacific

Completely Automated Public Turing (test for telling) Computers and Humans Apart. n. A test designed to determine whether a user is human or a spam bot, often consisting of a sequence of obscured graphic letters or numbers that must be typed into a field to continue. Some visually impaired individuals have difficulty reading captchas and spammers are continually developing successful methods of subverting the scheme. [Coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, and Nicholas J. Hopper of Carnegie Mellon University and John Langford of IBM.]

05.8.06 @ 04:24:09 pacific

n. Blogs. In some blog applications, a feature that allows an author to group similar entries, generally by applying freely chosen descriptors or tags. Past content is generally easier to retrieve from categorical files than from chronological archives.

05.8.06 @ 04:25:51 pacific

Content Management System. n. Software that facilitates the storage, organization, and retrieval of data. Examples: wikis and most blog authoring systems.

05.7.06 @ 01:26:12 pacific

n. Blogs. A feature that allows readers to publicly respond to blog entries. Commenting can be open to all blog visitors or restricted to designated individuals. Comments are often moderated in an attempt to control comment spam and, on some blogs, unwelcome comments. Comments are sometimes threaded, allowing visitors to comment on specific comments.

comment spam
05.7.06 @ 01:25:19 pacific

n. A form of spam that targets blog or wiki comment fields. Generally contains irrelevant links to spam originator websites. Spam filters, captchas, comment moderation, and user registration are techniques used to combat comment spam.

05.8.06 @ 04:12:43 pacific

n. The community of readers who leave comments on a blog. May require bloggers to thicken skin.

05.8.06 @ 04:29:16 pacific

n. Web. Code embedded by a website’s software on a visitor’s computer and used to store preferences, track purchases, or otherwise monitor activity. Can be benign, useful, or malevolent.

05.8.06 @ 04:11:29 pacific

Cascading Style Sheets. n. An HTML extension that allows greater control over web page display by defining style sheets that determine the look of page elements such as body text, headlines, and links. Because multiple style sheets can be used on the same page, they are said to cascade. Most blog authoring software allows CSS personalization of blog pages.

05.8.06 @ 04:10:11 pacific

n. Computer science. A hierarchical index of the files and subdirectories on a hard drive. Web. A web server listing links to other web pages organized by topic, sometimes including short descriptions. Generally compiled by human editors using hierarchical taxonomies. If generated automatically and solely for the purpose of inflating search rank, may be penalized as a link farm or bad neighborhood by search engines.

domain name
05.8.06 @ 04:08:30 pacific

n. Internet. The unique text name associated with a numeric IP address. Locates a computer or other device on the Internet. Example: dispatchesfromblogistan.com.

05.8.06 @ 04:04:48 pacific

n. Blogs. Individual blog items. May contain, among other elements, a headline, body text, photos, video, audio files, author name, date and time stamps, permalinks, trackbacks, archives, categorical tags, and reader comments. Sometimes called a post or an article.

05.8.06 @ 04:04:16 pacific

Portmanteau for favorite and icon. n. A small icon, 16 pixels by 16 pixels, that may appear to the left of a web page’s URL at the top of many browser windows.

05.8.06 @ 04:03:42 pacific

See news aggregator.

05.8.06 @ 04:02:21 pacific

n. Internet. A hostile or inflammatory comment. v. To leave such a comment. A flame war is an exchange of such comments.

05.8.06 @ 04:01:27 pacific

Portmanteau for folk and taxonomy. n. Describes a dynamic system of user-generated, categorical tags consisting of freely chosen keywords. [Coined in 2004 by Thomas Vander Wal.]

05.8.06 @ 04:00:46 pacific

File Transfer Protocol. n. A method for uploading and downloading files on the Internet.

05.8.06 @ 03:58:40 pacific

Portmanteau for global and local. adj. Used to denote global solutions adapted to local needs. Example: craigslist.org.

05.8.06 @ 03:57:17 pacific

n. Web. A computer or network of computers that provides services to others computers. v. To provide computer services to other computers on a network. Examples: Blogger and Typepad are hosted blog services.

05.8.06 @ 03:54:41 pacific

HyperText Markup Language. n. The markup language used to create interlinked Web pages. [Invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee.]

05.8.06 @ 03:52:19 pacific

n. A reference, or link, within an electronic document that, if clicked, leads to another point in the same document or to another electronic document; or that triggers the download of an electronic file. Generally displayed as highlighted anchor text, an icon, or an image.

05.8.06 @ 04:05:58 pacific

Internet Engineering Task Force. n. An open, international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers responsible for defining Internet standards and protocols.

inbound link
05.8.06 @ 03:51:32 pacific

n. A link to your website or blog from another. Used by search engines as a primary measure of popularity or rank.

05.8.06 @ 03:50:05 pacific

n. A web-based scripting language originally developed by Netscape that can be embedded in the HTML of a web page to extend functionality. Examples: validation of form input and button rollovers.

05.8.06 @ 03:48:15 pacific

n. A relevant word or phrase used in web-based titles, body text, headings, tags, or meta tags to facilitate topical searches.

05.8.06 @ 03:46:52 pacific

Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl, Python or PHP. A suite of free programs that serve, respectively, as operating system, web server, database management system, and scripting languages for dynamic websites and servers. Often used in conjunction with discussions of Web 2.0. [Coined in 1998 by Michael Kuntz.]

link farm
04.25.06 @ 07:31:38 pacific

n. A website, often automated, containing a long list of links to unrelated web pages created solely for the purpose of increasing the number of inbound links for participating websites. Search engines seek out and penalize link farms and those who link to them. Sometimes called bad neighborhoods.

link rot
05.8.06 @ 03:45:16 pacific

n. Describes web page links that are no longer valid due to deleted pages or changed URLs.

long tail
05.8.06 @ 03:42:02 pacific

n. A colloquial term for an L-shaped diagram illustrating statistical distribution of a small population of high-frequency events along the vertical axis, called the head, and a much greater population of increasingly rare events falling along the horizontal axis, or tail. Examples: distribution of wealth within a culture, frequency of words within a text, or a graph illustrating the popularity of blogs. Sometimes called Zipf or Power Law distribution or a Pareto tail. [First applied to distribution of digital content by Chris Anderson in 2004.]

05.8.06 @ 03:40:11 pacific

n. Blog. To visit a blog without ever posting a comment. A lurker is one who regularly engages in such behavior.

markup language
05.8.06 @ 03:39:01 pacific

n. A method for annotating a digital document with embedded tags to determine processing, format, and general display. Examples: HTML and XML.

05.8.06 @ 03:31:16 pacific

n. A distinct idea that propagates across networks of individuals. On blogs, often used in combinations such as meme war or meme hack. [Coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene.]

meta tag
05.8.06 @ 03:33:32 pacific

n. HTML. Several types of information stored in a web page’s source code and invisible to the general user. Traditionally used to aid search engine indexing, but abused by spammers who fill the tags with unrelated search terms, an activity sometimes called keyword stuffing. Examples: meta description tags aid search engines by providing brief summaries of a page’s content; meta keywords tags display comma-delimited lists of terms relevant to a web page’s content, including possible misspellings.

05.8.06 @ 03:36:35 pacific

n. Information used to describe other information. Examples: meta tag or categorical tag. [From Greek meta, beside, and Latin data, information.]

05.8.06 @ 03:27:27 pacific

Portmanteau of mobile and blog. n. A blog that is updated from a phone or personal digital assistant (PDA). Moblog content often contains more photos than text.

05.8.06 @ 03:28:37 pacific

Internet. v. To screen or otherwise process comments prior to public display to allow deletion of spam or to enforce guidelines. Most blog authoring software features moderation controls.

05.8.06 @ 03:26:49 pacific

MainStream Media. n. Commonly used acronym on blogs.

05.8.06 @ 03:25:34 pacific

Portmanteau of network and etiquette. n. An unwritten code of online conduct that has grown up over time. Generally dictates respectful, if not always formally polite, behavior.

news aggregator
05.8.06 @ 03:23:35 pacific

n. Software that allows a user to subscribe to and read constantly updated newsfeeds. Can reside locally on the desktop or be a web service accessed via a browser. Sometimes called a newsreader or feedreader.

05.8.06 @ 03:22:35 pacific

n. Syndicated web content that is subscription-based. Newsfeed content consists of XML-based RSS or Atom files that may include a title; an excerpt or full text; author name; the date and time the file was uploaded; categorical tags; and a unique URL, or permalink for the entry.

open source
05.8.06 @ 03:22:02 pacific

adj. Describes a type of computer program for which the original source code is publicly available, allowing other programmers to contribute to and build upon the core code. Examples: Linux and WordPress.

08.12.05 @ 01:04:59 pacific

A portmanteau for permanent and link. n. A unique URL for each blog entry allowing others to link directly to the entry even after it is has been moved from the blog’s front page to archives or categorical files.

05.8.06 @ 03:20:25 pacific

Packet INternet Groper. n. A utility program that sends a simple message (generally 64 bytes) from one computer to another. General Internet. Pings test whether a particular host is operating, returning estimates about round-trip time and how much information (number of packets) may be lost. Blogs. Pings notify search engines and news aggregators that new content has just been uploaded or edited. v. To use a ping utility.

05.8.06 @ 03:17:42 pacific

n. A small software program that extends the functionality of Web browsers, blog authoring software, or other software applications.

05.8.06 @ 03:16:43 pacific

Portmanteau of iPod and broadcast. n. A downloadable file, generally audio or video, designed to be played asynchronously on digital players (not just Apple iPods). v. To record and make available such a file.

05.8.06 @ 03:14:30 pacific

See entry.

05.8.06 @ 03:13:04 pacific

n. Internet. A specification, sometimes a standard, that determines how computers will communicate with each other. Examples: HTTP, FTP, and TCP/IP.

referral log
05.8.06 @ 03:12:24 pacific

n. A file that records the URLs of web pages that contain links that visitors have used to access your website or blog. If the originating website was a search engine, you can generally view the keyword(s) used in the search.

relevance ranking
05.8.06 @ 03:09:28 pacific

n. Web. The most common method used by search engines to determine the order in which search results will be displayed; relies heavily on the number and placement of keywords.

05.8.06 @ 03:08:53 pacific

Really Simply Syndication, Rich Site Summary, or RDF Site Summary. n. An XML-based format used to generate a newsfeed. Individuals may subscribe to syndicated RSS content and have it delivered to their news aggregators. It is unlikely that RSS will be updated; Atom is currently thought to be the most likely successor.

05.8.06 @ 03:05:51 pacific

Search Engine Optimization. n. Techniques used to improve search engine ranking for websites and blogs. As a discipline, SEO is in constant flux as search engines continually adapt to an ever-changing content and delivery environment.

05.8.06 @ 03:03:23 pacific

v. To be mentioned on slashdot.org, which almost always results in a huge increase in traffic, sometimes slowing or crashing web servers. Now often used to describe any major increase in traffic due to mention on a popular website.

source code
05.8.06 @ 03:02:34 pacific

n. The text, tags, and instructions that make up a web page. Can be viewed by choosing View Source from most browser file menus.

05.8.06 @ 03:01:24 pacific

n. Internet. Unsolicited content, generally commercial in tone, inserted into email, newsgroups, blog and wiki comments, and HTML metatags, often clogging networks and annoying humans. v. To create and send spam. [Coined after a Monty Python skit that repeated a reference to a canned pork product, ad nauseum.]

05.8.06 @ 02:59:28 pacific

n. An automated software program that generates spam.

05.8.06 @ 02:58:57 pacific

n. A small automated software program sent out by a search engine to discover, download, analyze, and index individual web pages for the purpose of keyword searches and subsequent page ranking. The length of time between visits from traditional search engines like Google or Yahoo can be weeks or even months. Sometimes called a bot or crawler.

05.8.06 @ 02:56:44 pacific

n. A blog built expressly as a spam vehicle.

05.8.06 @ 02:56:20 pacific

Abbreviation for statistics. n. Web stats applications measure and report the number of pages viewed, number of unique visitors within a given time period, and what search terms or links on other sites readers used to find your blog. Stored in a referral log.

08.21.05 @ 09:47:40 pacific

v. Mainstream media. To make journalistic content available to other media outlets for simultaneous publication. A fee is often associated with the transaction. Blogging. To make XML-format content available to individual subscribers. Syndicated blog content may contain a headline, datestamp, and excerpt or full text of an entry. Subscribers collect and read the resulting newsfeeds in news readers or aggregators. Syndicated content is sometimes republished on other blogs. Blog syndication is almost always free.

05.8.06 @ 02:56:00 pacific

n. Computer science. A type of metadata that acts as a label identifying data in memory. Markup languages. n. A sequence of characters contained within angle brackets that denote page elements or formatting. Blogs and social networks. A user-generated categorical label that is freely chosen and generally shared across networks. v. To assign tags. Sometimes called folksonomy.

tag cloud
05.8.06 @ 02:46:52 pacific

n. A semantic visualization illustrating a distribution of user-applied tags with the more commonly used terms represented in a larger font and/or with greater opacity. Sometimes called a mindmap or weighted list. Example: http://technorati.com/tags

05.8.06 @ 02:46:24 pacific

n. Blogging. A set of rules that determines the look and feel of a blog. The ability to customize a blog differs greatly among blog authoring systems. Sometimes called themes or skins.

05.8.06 @ 02:45:24 pacific

n. Internet. A series of comments posted in response to a single online entry. Originally used to describe conversations taking place on bulletin board services (BBS’s), where it is usually displayed in an indented, branching format. Sometimes used to track email or blog conversations.

08.1.05 @ 07:03:18 pacific

n. A blog feature that allows visitors to notify you and your readers that they’ve responded to your blog entry on their own blog. Introduced by Six Apart in 2002, a trackback link consists of a unique trackback URL and a mechanism that allows one blog to ping another, providing notification of the cross-linking.

05.8.06 @ 02:44:38 pacific

n. Blogging. One who posts provocative entries or comments with intent to disrupt conversations and/or incite angry responses. v. To post such entries or comments.

05.8.06 @ 02:43:15 pacific

Portmanteau of ubiquitous and computing. n. Research focusing on networked computers embedded in everyday objects, such as appliances, clothing, cultural artifacts, buildings, and vehicles. Allowing constant connectivity and access. Sometimes called pervasive computing. [Coined by Mark Weiser, who claimed to be influenced by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick's novel Ubik.]

05.8.06 @ 02:41:58 pacific

Uniform Resource Locator. n. Used to identify the unique address of a web page, generally beginning with a protocol such as http:, ftp:, or mailto:, and ending with the web page’s domain name, directory, and specific page name. Although the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has deprecated the term in favor of the more accurate URI (Universal Resource Identifier), URL remains the more commonly used term.

05.8.06 @ 02:35:29 pacific

Portmanteau of video and blog. n. A blog that presents video as its primary format, along with some contextual metadata describing the content.

Web 2.0
05.8.06 @ 02:35:02 pacific

n. A label applied to technologies, services, and social networks that build upon the Web as a computing platform rather than merely as a hyperlinked collection of largely static web pages. In practice, services dubbed Web 2.0 reflect open standards, decentralized infrastructure, flexibility, simplicity, and, perhaps most importantly, active user-participation. Examples: blogs, wikis, craigslist.com, del.icio.us, and Flickr. [Coined in 2004 by Dale Dougherty.]

05.8.06 @ 02:34:33 pacific

Portmanteau for web and log. n. [Coined in 1997 by Jorn Barger on his Robot Wisdom blog to describe the process of "logging the web" as he surfed.]

05.8.06 @ 02:33:33 pacific

n. A type of collaborative, knowledge-based website that allow readers to write and edit content, maintaining a record of all changes. [From Hawai'ian wikiwiki, quick. Sometimes cited as an acronym for "what I know is." Coined in 1995 by Ward Cunningham.]

05.8.06 @ 02:33:08 pacific

What You See Is What You Get. n. The ability to see content you are writing or editing with the formatting it will have in a browser.

05.8.06 @ 02:32:02 pacific

eXtensible HyperText Markup Language. n. Similar to HTML, but with a stricter syntax, allowing for automated processing of data and making it easier to deliver the same content across devices.

05.8.06 @ 02:31:39 pacific

eXtensible Markup Language. n. File format used to represent data as well as extend and annotate HTML. Examples: RSS and Atom files are formatted as XML files.