Blogs away10th April 2006
Blogs may have existed as long ago as 1993, but the term 'weblog' appears to have been coined in 1997 says Graham Clews in BMA News.
The phenomenon really took off in early 1999 when 23 were identified by one of the first web pages to catalogue blogs. By the end of that year the number was so great the same web page had given up counting.
The term 'blog' covers pages offering 'information, insight and interference' says Clews. Now numbering hundreds of thousands they need not fit any particular form. Salon.com (www.salon.com) offers the definition 'Weblogs, typically, are personal websites operated by individuals who compile chronological lists of links to stuff that interests them, interspersed with information, editorialising and personal asides.'
People indulge in medical blogs for a number of reasons; some to give a 'warts and all description' of life in the health service, others to engage people and raise awareness. For others it is an opportunity to vent their feelings - for example 'Barbados Butterfly' (www.barbadosbutterfly.blogspot.com). It may fulfil a need to communicate and inspire, as with Aniruddha Malpani, a consultant IVF specialist in Mumbai, India (www.doctorandpatient.blogspot.com).
Blogging, says Clews, is a bit like nuclear weapons - it cannot be 'uninvented' so doctors, and other health professionals, are stuck with it for better or worse.
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