ONE in four internet users write on-line diaries or "blogs" according to a recent survey carried out by MSN.

Tim Clague is a 33 year-old Bafta-nominated scriptwriter and blogger from Dorset. His blog is a daily musing on issues that face scriptwriters and filmmakers and has developed into an arena that has roughly 60 regular visitors contributing to the discussion.

A few weeks ago, Tim, from Bournemouth, was contacted, via his blog ( ), by a filmmaker from San Fransisco who was in London and they arranged to meet which runs counter to the argument that blogs discourage social interaction.

"Blog" is short for "weblog", and is a type of website where entries are made, such as in a diary or journal.

The pastime of blogging has seen a speedy rise in popularity over the past five years, and is a phenomenon that has many diverse forms. There are news blogs and film blogs, teenage blogs and gay blogs.

There are blogs that are online diaries, an arena for an individual to publish their general everyday thoughts, and then there are those that are specialist and provide a forum for discussion.

In response to the news of the widespread nature of blogging, Janet Street Porter wrote a scathing article in the Independent on Sunday, calling blogs "the verbal diarrhoea of the under-educated and banal".

The perception that blogs are created by lone anoraks who want to tell the world what they had for dinner, however, is not wholly accurate, as I discovered while investigating this article.

Many blogs have developed into interesting forums and useful tools for professionals.

Blogging also enables anyone, with or without a higher education, to publish writing instantly, free from the limitations that an editor may impose, for a potentially large, international audience.

Some journalists and writers are worried that blogging will devalue their trade, but others are setting up their own blogs and turning them into profitable enterprises.

"There's the external benefit and the internal benefit," says Tim, who has had his own blog for nearly a year. "When you have to write something every day, you start looking at things again."

And he may be right. One of the most common pieces of advice given to a budding writer is to write every day, be it a journal or just putting pen to paper and seeing what emerges.

With the best intentions in the world, this is hard to maintain when you are only writing for yourself.

Blogging helps to maintain the motivation and presents a potential audience, making it easier to keep up the practice of everyday writing, with the added bonus of receiving feedback on it.

Shaune Fradley, 33, from Bournemouth, currently has two blogs.

One - The Uncle's Rant - ( ) is a comedy blog where Shaune moans about things he doesn't like.

He also has The Possum Pie Travelogue Blog, ( ) on which he is writing up, a day at a time, an account of his recent trip to New Zealand, complete with photos and reviews of all the places he ate and stayed in. It is like a free travel guide.

Shaune blogs for fun. "You can expand your circle of friends, and do something different. I like the conversation and I like to keep my brain fresh," he says.

In a recent Press Association article, Professor Helen Petrie, specialist in Human Computer Interaction at the University of York said: "Blogging is a great way of expressing yourself in a society where we actually feel as if we have fewer and fewer opportunities to voice ourselves as individuals it doesn't take a huge part out of our busy days to create and maintain a blog - it can take just half an hour to start one up on your computer, and it's a way of saying I'm here, I'm unique, and here's something about me'."

Tim says: "People watch TV, and it tells them how to feel, and they buy a newspaper and that tells them what to think pretty soon everyone is living your life for you so the whole blog movement is doing something for yourself."

Shaune says: "The only problem is the saturation out there."

Tim adds: "But then, you take time to discover which blog interests you. It's the same as you do with a newspaper. Whose column do you like reading?"

The media is constantly evolving and has gone through revolutions before.

With the advent of TV, doom-laden predictions of the end of radio were made, and with the arrival of video, the cinema was going to be dead.

But neither media has snuffed it yet. Each has simply adapted to a changing marketplace and shuffled sideways to allow for other channels of communication to step in beside them.

If that is not an ideal of a democratic media, what is?