An intriguing historical review; read the full piece
The most gossipy blogs take aim at public figures, combining two basic ingredients, scurrility and celebrity, and they deal in short jabs, usually nothing longer than a paragraph. They often appeal to particular constituencies such as Hollywood buffs (Perez Hilton), political junkies (Wonkette), college kids (Ivy Gate), and lawyers (Underneath Their Robes). Politically they may lean to the right (Michelle Malkin) or to the left (Daily Kos). But all of them conform to a formula derived from old-fashioned tabloid journalism: names make news.
How new, then, is bloggery? Should we think of it as a by-product of the modern means of communication and a sign of a time when newspapers seem doomed to obsolescence? It makes the most of technical innovations—the possibility of constant contact with virtual communities by means of web sites and the premium placed on brevity by platforms such as Twitter with its limit of 140 characters per message. Yet blog-like messaging can be found in many times and places long before the Internet.