Blog on Blogs

What's a blog? It's the hot topic on the Internet these days, but what, exactly, is it? Since we've just launched four new blogs here on Ultimate AV, this is a timely question. Three of the blogs have been converted directly from our previous monthly columns. A fourth is brand new.

Simply put, blog is a word derived from Web log. And since a log is a diary of one sort or another, a blog is a log or diary posted on the Web. There are literally millions of them. If you want see just how fast the blog phenomenon has spread (blogs were virtually unknown five years ago) go to www.technorati .com—a search engine for blogs. Prepare to be amazed.

Typically, a blog is updated frequently. It can cover anything from how the blogger's diet is going ("This morning I ate two bowls of Cheerios with skim milk, finished off with a nice Chianti.") to an endless discussion of Homer's The Odyssey.

Here at UAV we hope to be a little more focused. Michael Fremer and Joel Brinkley's blogs will carry the same titles as their former columns. Fred Manteghian's new blog, "The Cutting Room Floor," and my renamed tome, "Deep Focus" will join in the fun.

Our Odyssey is a search for the best in audio, video, and home theater. Initially, all four blogs will be wide ranging. Yes, Joel Brinkley, author of the definitive book on the political landscape behind the creation of HDTV, Defining Vision (sound familiar?), will continue to dig deep into continuing HDTV developments. Michael Fremer, Stereophile magazine's Mr. Analog, will bring the sensibility of an analogophile (that's a word, isn't it?—it is now) to the decidedly digital world of home theater audio and video. Fred Mantegian will lend his unique voice (and off-the-wall sense of humor) to what's happening in our hobby. And in "Deep Focus" I'll dig down for information and commentary on the hardware, software, new ideas, and ongoing developments that pepper this industry.

As time goes by, the individual blogs may become more focused on areas that particularly inspire the writer. Then, at some future time, one or more of them might shift again, as both the industry and the writer are flooded with new ideas, new technologies, and new applications of existing technologies that we can't yet imagine. For example, the first few months of Blu-ray and HD-DVD—whenever they come!—will provide an exceptional opportunity for four distinctive opinions on the pros and cons of each format. Or, as we all still hope, for individual commentary on a single, unified format.

The blogs will also provide a unique forum for us to provide information that might not fit into a long feature, or would be lost to many readers if buried deep in a review. It will also provide a venue to discuss more DVD releases, outside of the constraints of a formal review. Or we might even discuss an older but worthy DVD we think you should know more about. And one or more of the bloggers might want to chime in on a DVD—or a high definition broadcast—that was mentioned or reviewed by someone else. The same goes for older DVDs that we (or you) might have missed.

The blogs also provide a forum for us to provide information about topics like our product bench test philosophy, or how the review process itself proceeds—a process which varies a bit from reviewer to reviewer.

And while we haven't done book reviews in the past, and don't plan to make them a regular feature now, there are books out there that I know will be of interest to readers. I, for one, can spend hours in the local Barnes & Noble just perusing the racks of books on movies and television—there is a lot of space devoted to these subjects in any big LA bookstore!

You will also occasionally see product commentary blogs. They may touch on products that we have just started to review (but don't expect a quick and dirty conclusion—a full review isn't done until it's done). Or it could extend all the way up to a short blog report on the product—perhaps a product that we can't fit into our regular schedule, but one that the blogger is anxious to have a look at and thinks you might be, too.

Just as important as our input, however, is yours. The blogs will provide a direct opportunity for you to comment on the blogger's remarks, which could well result in a spirited exchange. We definitely encourage your comments and observations.

Blogs are only the beginning. We have other exciting new features in the works for Ultimate AV, as well. We plan to become a real community, driven by the instant communication and feedback that are impossible in print but can flourish on the Web. So stop back often to see what we're all up to. Invite your friends. You're all invited to the Ultimate AVparty! The more we grow, and the more readers we have joining in, the more fun it will be for everyone.