The phenomenon of internet web diaries (blogs) recently hit the news through the activities of the 'Baghdad Blogger'.
Blogs are personal websites which allow a user to put regular comments, news items or stories online - rather like a public diary.
It's predicted that there will be over 5 million such sites by the time you read this.
A quick internet search puts you at the centre of the blogging community. Blogs attract readers through search engines and links from other blogs. So each blog sits at the heart of a spider's web of links to others of similar tastes or interests - forming an 'online community'.
For Socialist Review readers, the mass of blogs describing the writers' lives and loves might not be of particular interest, but web communities such as the 'No War Blog' are worth viewing. This site brings together anti-war blogs, divided into left and right wing opposition to the war (there are many more left wing sites). Unfortunately the politics often don't live up to the names - Lean Left, Counterspin Central and Political DiaBlog to pick a random few.
Politically blogs tend to either be liberal left or anarchistic, with a smattering of libertarians. I've not been able to find many from an explicitly socialist point of view.
Many people will already have seen some of the postings by the 'Baghdad Blogger' in the Guardian, but it's worth looking at his site again - the writer visited London at the time of last September's stop the war protest.
There is a debate to be had about democracy and blogs - the ability to debate and network with people across the globe is something that can only be welcomed but, as with everything on the internet, sooner or later more mainstream interests take note. For instance, Democratic contender Howard Dean has hundreds of blogs giving him their support, and he even has his own.
Finally, of real interest is the blog run by the general secretary of the CWU, Billy Hayes. Certainly the post workers who commentated online about his activities during the course of their recent strike would argue that the blog makes their union leader more accountable. Gimmick or real attempt at democracy? Read it and decide.