Everything from gossip to homework shows up onscreen in these cyber diaries.
It's a typical journal entry. Natalia is worrying about a fast-approaching advanced-placement test. She's also been pondering some "all-too-relevant concepts" in her psychology book, such as social loafing and groupthink. And over the weekend, while watching a friend gear up for the junior prom, she glue-gunned fake flowers onto a headband and felt affirmation for being "vehemently anti-skirt."
Natalia seems to be documenting her adolescence in the most ordinary fashion, recounting each day's events - the good, the bad, and the mundane - with equal fervor.
What sets this high school junior apart from the Dear Diary scribes of earlier generations is that Natalia posts her entries in the very public domain of the World Wide Web. She is, in the parlance of our times, a blogger.
Translation: Natalia runs a blog (short for weblog), which is the cyber-equivalent of a diary, which means the rest of the world now has peeping rights - and she does it all from a laptop in her bedroom outside Washington. She's been blogging for years, and she is not alone.
Weblogs are known as the indie rock of the Internet; thousands of teens claim one for their own. They need no corporate might to sponsor their musings, doodles, or homework, and they need no permission to publish.
Natalia is a true early adopter. At age 8, she learned both to keep a journal and to surf the Internet. She had HTML down by seventh grade, and has been running her own blog, www.imaginaire.nu, for nearly three years. The software is free, the maintenance low, the authority over content limitless.
"My blog is freedom," Natalia says. "It's an outlet for ideas and thoughts that don't have another place to go. If I feel like going on about an actor I think is cute, or music I like, or typing out my Spanish oral [exam] in order to memorize it, I can do that."
What began in 1997 as a fad among the savviest of the tech savvy - individual blogs had to be built, after all, one block of code at a time - has mushroomed into a hyperconnected network of fanatic bloggers. The fervor reached new heights in 1999 with the creation of blogger.com, a site that, along with a slew of others today, enables anyone to sign up and begin blogging in minutes.
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