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Blog – It’s Only a Name April 14, 2006

Posted by Kim in Blog(ing), Names.
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“You should change the name of your web site (then named Kim’s Blog). The word Blog has such negative connotations associated with it.” A friend told me this when first viewing my new WordPress Blog. Negative Connotations? What’s negative about it? ”Don’know, I just don’t like the sound of it,” he answered. It got me to thinking, is this attitude pervasive? Is it a generational thing? If so, why? In the case of this particular person, I suspect it has more to do with his associating “Blog” with “News Blog” and the perceived inaccuracy (justified or not) of the latter. Even so, should "not liking" one member of a group be cause for disliking the entire group? I.e., say I don’t like the “Enquirer” and other gossip newspapers should I dislike the use of “Newspaper” to identify any periodical? Perhaps this wasn’t the reason. Maybe it’s just the sound of the word “Blog”. If so, I could understand not liking its sound, but negative connotation? Hmmm!

What’s in a name?

The term blog is a blend of the terms web and log, leading to web log, weblog, and finally blog. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called blogging. Individual articles on a blog are called "blog posts," "posts" or "entries". A person who posts these entries is called a blogger… A blog site typically contains a list of links, or blogroll, of other blogs that the blog author reads or affiliates with. [Wikipedia]

A Blog by any other name… Perhaps we should request a name change to something like… “Rose”? Oops, maybe not… seems that one’s already taken. Like it or not, I think “Blog”, and all its derivatives (blogging, blogger, blogroll, blogosphere, etc.), is here to stay. As the saying goes, “the horse is out of the barn.”

How pervasive are Blogs?

In February of 2004, The Pew Internet study estimated that about 11%, or about 50 million, of Internet users were regular blog readers. According to Technorati data, there are about 70,000 new blogs a day. Bloggers — people who write weblogs — update their weblogs regularly; there are about 700,000 posts daily, or about 29,100 blog updates an hour (emphasis mine). By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Technorati or with the term “Tags”, as it applies to searching out Blogs of interest, make the jump and give it a try.

Is there a “Best of” list of Blogs?

I’m not sure about “best of” (a relative term) but there is sort of a “most popular” list maintained by MIT’s Media Lab Blodex project.

Blogdex is the creation of 24-year-old PhD student Cameron Marlow. It's an index of more than 10,000 weblogs, the often idiosyncratic online journals that typically combine personal musings with commentary on web sites the weblog's author, or "blogger," considers interesting.

A good general discussion of Blodex, plus a list of some caveats, can be found at Search Engine Watch. Also see Blog popularity dynamics on Wikipedia.

Final words

From my own personal observation, I have found that if you locate a blog written by someone with similar interests to your own, it can be great for discovering content that might otherwise be difficult to find in printed/broadcast media, on a traditional media web site, or even by using a search engine.

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Classical Roman Names March 28, 2006

Posted by Kim in Ancient History, History, Names, Rome.
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While chatting this morning with my cousin he asked if I knew why there seems to be so little similarity between Classical Roman Names and surnames found in Italy today.  He is currently reading "The First Man In Rome" by Colleen McCullough which, as you may know, is almost overbearing in its use of the classical form of historical Roman names.  I didn't really have a good answer so decided to do a little research on the web.  According to Wikipedia, Italian names are mostly derived from Latin, but since Italy has been often ruled by foreigners, many surnames are of Spanish, French, German, Norman or Swiss origin. Another view can be found at the Mayrand Family Association – Meaning and Origin of Names:

In early times, the Romans had only one name. However, they later changed to using three names. The given name stood first and was called a "praenomen." This was followed by the "nomen" which designates the gens, or clan. The last name designates the family and is known as the "cognomen," Some Romans added a fourth name, the "agnomen," to commemorate an illustrious action, or remarkable event.

As the Roman Empire began to decline, family names became confused and single names once again became customary. During the early Middle Ages, people were referred to by a single given name. But gradually the custom of adding another name as a way to distinguish individuals gained popularity. Certain distinct traits became commonly used as a part of this practice. For instance, the place of birth: St. Francis of Assisi; a descriptive characteristic: Lambert Le Tort, an Old French poet whose name means "Lambert the Nisted;" the person's occupation: Piers, Plowman; or the use of the father's name: Leif Ericsson.