'Blogging' culture takes off in Slovakia

In Slovakia, the modern cultural phenomenon of 'blogging' has taken off. If you haven't discovered them, 'blogs' are the more personal type of articles on the internet. The software enabling the personal postings has been around since the late 1990´s.

Dan Gilmore is the author of We the Media and host of beosphere.com:

"A 'blog' is short for 'web log' and there are web logs on just about every topic you can think of. People wanted to express themselves and wanted better software than they had. Now millions of people use this software to express themselves. I think people have something to say and they will say it. Good blogs make me think. They raise issues that I haven't thought of, they tell me facts that I didn't know, although I don't automatically trust them."

Slovak 'blogger' Palo says if there is something interesting inside him or around him, then he can share it with others thanks to blogs:

"I write about rap music, because I listen to it and I also perform some hip hop. So I can share some insider information about this culture with other people."

To Slovakia blogging came a bit later than to the USA, however currently it is quite strong in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe says Dan Gilmore:

"I think that it is a natural kind of media especially for people living in places where in the past having an individual voice was very difficult."

In Slovakia in the last couple of months blogging has become very visible. In one of the three biggest Slovak dailies, the daily SME hosts a blog arena and once a week blogs get a full page in the print version of the daily.

The idea of the big daily hosting a 'blog arena' or forum came about in November of last year. Starting with six bloggers, a year later the SME site hosts more than 1,200 registered bloggers. Tomas Bella, editor of the SME daily blogs explains:

"At the beginning there were about 50 bloggers in Slovakia. So there was a big raise after we started this project. And now I would say that there are more of us now than in the neighboring countries, because in these countries there is no such a big server which would promise bloggers such a big publicity, as we do. It is quite attractive for people."

In blogs you can write about anything. Among Slovak bloggers personal lives, relationships, problems, politics, movie reviews, these are the hottest topics that people feel they need to give a standpoint to.

Blogging is really writing articles, so in a way journalism, but with more emotions. Although technology is progressing, Dan Gilmore says blogging is not a threat to old fashioned journalism. However, it can often be a good supplement. Tomas Bela, from the SME daily says that if a blog picks up a topic that has not been discussed by journalists, they simply publish it in the daily.

"By just publishing the article of the blogger, a public debate often begins."

On one hand blogs are also unprofessional photos, poems, or articles that often lack the professional touch. On the other hand, blogs have less limits and boundaries than professional articles. Palo adds another advantage of blogging.

"Some blogs are written by people who are insiders and they decide to explain a certain topic. So it is better to read blogs because you can learn more from these kinds of articles."