A fun game that's been making the rounds on Facebook lately is also available directly online. TravelPod's Traveler IQ Challenge is a 21st-century version of a geography bee. The site presents a blank world map with country borders, and asks you to click as closely as you can to various cities and famous locations. There are 12 rounds, starting with easy world cities (think London and Paris) and getting progressively harder (think Niamey, Niger and Honiara, Solomon Islands). You're only allowed to pass on to the next level after you've passed each round. It's incredibly addictive, because you can take the test as many times as you want, and the program will generate different locations each time you take it. It also gets really, really difficult. I had a particularly hard time locating cities in West Africa and anyplace in Australia besides Sydney and Ayres Rock. Also, because the map is so small, a little twitch of the the hand when you mean to click your mouse on Vancouver can easily put you in Seattle. I can't seem to get past Round 11, but I bet plenty of Passport readers would do better. Have fun!
Passport would be remiss this year if it failed to mention that December 2007 is the 10th anniversary of the coining of the word "weblog."
Jorn Barger (the man in the photo) is widely credited with inventing the word "Weblog" on Dec. 17 or Dec. 23 (the exact date seems to vary depending on the source) of 1997 when describing the list of links he had posted on his Web site Robot Wisdom. This list logged sites he stumbled upon while surfing the Web. According to the Wall Street Journal, Barger wrote on his site on Dec. 23, 1997:
I decided to start my own webpage logging the best stuff I find as I surf, on a daily basis.
Barger, who apparently has continued his blogging at this site, seems to be an eccentric character, who purportedly loves James Joyce and who has been accused of being anti-Semitic. Recently, though, Wired magazine was able to track him down and get him to share 10 tips for novice bloggers.
Technically, Barger isn't the first blogger. Justin Hall, for example, chronicled his life online from 1994 to 2005. But Barger is the first to make regular postings using the term "Weblog." (The word "blog" seems to have originated in 1999 when Peter Merholz deconstructed "weblog" into "we blog" in the sidebar of his Web site.) The phenomenon that Barger and others started has today exploded into a cacophony of more than 100 million blogs.