Blog. It sounds like something you would say when you are feeling under the weather (“I’m feeling so blog today…”), but it is actually short for Web log, a regularly updated online journal. Blogs were originally used by people who wanted to keep in touch with friends and family, but their functions have expanded since then. Many blogs are now devoted to current events, popular culture, and special interests of all kinds, including diabetes.
A blog allows a person to share his thoughts with anyone on the Internet who cares to read them. Readers have the option of responding to the author, or blogger, via comments, which the blogger may or may not choose to post online. Readers can also respond to the comments of other readers with their own comments.
A blog can also feature the writing of multiple contributors. The Diabetes Self-Management Blog (www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog), for instance, has weekly entries by five different bloggers, each of whom offers different information and a different perspective on living with diabetes.
Most blogs are created using a blog hosting service, such as
Blogger.com, Livejournal.com, or Wordpress.com. Ready-made templates allow people with no Web site experience to begin posting their thoughts immediately. (To learn more about starting your own blog, check out “Getting Started With Blogs.”)
When delving into the world of blogs, it can seem overwhelming at first. More than 200 million blogs exist, with blog search engine Technorati (www.technorati.com) tracking more than 130 million. But in the world of blogs, there is a small neighborhood of bloggers known as the Diabetes Online Community, or the Diabetes O.C. This group of individuals has formed its own online support group and education forum, where bloggers share their personal experiences, frustrations, and questions about diabetes, along with other facets of their lives.
Diabetes support groups are not new, and their value has long been recognized.
“It is my contention that good support is the most important influence on the individual’s ability to manage diabetes successfully over the years,” says William Polonsky, PhD, founder and director of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute and author of the book Diabetes Burnout: What To Do When You Just Can’t Take It Anymore, published by the American Diabetes Association. “When you have someone rooting for you, it can make all the difference in the world.”
Blogging is a relatively new format for diabetes support, where people read and submit comments to blogs from a computer instead of talking in person. This type of online communication allows readers to tap into the experiences of others from all walks of life.
Blogs have also opened the door to more patient-driven education. Instead of relying solely on medical professionals for information, people now use blogs to share experiences and advice about what has and hasn’t worked for them.
According to Dr. William Quick, an endocrinologist with Type 2 diabetes and blogger at HealthCentral.com, “Diabetes demands a different model of care: patient participation and empowerment.”
Amy Tenderich, a journalist with Type 1 diabetes and author of the award-winning blog Diabetes Mine (www.diabetesmine.com), concurs. “My take is that blogs are tailor-made for the diabetes community. Why? Because diabetes is a unique disease: chronic, yet largely controllable by the patient, with a lot of work and perseverance.”