Finance sector throws arms around blogging

BY DAVID SPEAKMAN

Those who haven’t heard the word “blog” before better get used to it. The American Dialect Society says of all the new terms entering our lexicon last year, this four-letter word is the most likely to stick around permanently.

With the ability to instantaneously update diary-like logs remotely over the Internet, Weblogs, or blogs, are attracting financial pundits.

Based on a technology that nearly died with the dot-com bust, the blog has made a comeback and is making its mark on time-sensitive communication.

For some, the blog is a natural fit with financial market pundits since it allows updates from any personal computer or mobile device connected to the Web.

“Blog is the modern day financial newsletter,” says Marc Canter, founder of Macromedia Inc. and current president and CEO of San Francisco-based Broadband Mechanics Inc. “In the case of a financial trader, he may have a private blog that only a few people have access to,” Canter says. “But if you get the right people to listen to you, you can move a mountain.”

The company that popularized the blog almost died before the blogging movement began. San Francisco’s Pyra Labs LCC, owner of www.blogger.com and its blog software was saved from extinction after the 2000 dot-com bloodbath by an angel investment from VisiCalc founder Dan Bricklin’s Trellix Corp.

With blogs passing the 1 million mark Jan. 1, the company claims a 67 percent share.

Pyra’s software won over investor Donald Luskin of Trend Macrolytics.

“There is essentially no learning at all involved in using it,” Luskin says. “It’s about as easy as e-mail. Believe me, I don’t have much [programming] knowledge, and I’ve set up some cool blogs. Blogging means you can create a collaborative, interactive and frequently-updated site with virtually no upfront investment in custom-software design.”

Pyra’s Shellen says market watchers and the financial community are not the only industries adopting blog, noting the first group outside of the tech savvy to adopt blogging were political pundits after the 2001 terrorist attacks. “September 12 was our highest sign-up day ever. But lately we’ve seen an increase of blog use among the legal profession.”

“You can see your thoughts spread out through the Internet and watch them evolve and come back,” says Mitch Ratcliffe, president of Internet/Media Strategies, which publishes a media trends blog using software from Userland Software Inc.

The blog free-speech evolution has at least one world government on edge. Recently the Communist China government, which is tightening its control over Web technology used for political dissent, blocked its citizens’ access to Blogger.com’s Web site.