Blog craze

| April 01, 2006

After a career in computers, “Trucker Tom” Wiles started trucking and used his technological know-how to create a blog and podcasts.

Five years ago, the term “blog” could have been the name of an alien invader in a blockbuster movie, but these days, nearly everyone has one, is getting one or is reading someone else’s – including truckers.

So what is a blog? Short for weblog, it’s a personal Internet publication, consisting of constantly updated articles and entries about any topic under the sun. A blog can be an intimate journal entry, a record of daily happenings or a political commentary. Blog writers, known as bloggers, have virtual free reign over what they want to write, as well as what they want the public to read.

A blog gives the public a peek into an individual’s personal thoughts, rants and raves. And as blogs become more popular on the political beat, challenging journalists with in-depth reporting on subjects such as White House scandals and celebrity gossip, truck drivers are also finding a voice in the weblog world.

Tom Wiles of West Fork, Ark., is a typical techie. He knows the ins and outs of his laptop, mp3 player and other gadgets that he uses to publish his blog and podcasts, which are audio recordings that can be published via the Internet. Podcast listeners can download the feeds through iTunes and other file providers.

Wiles is also a reefer driver for Shaffer Trucking, sporting a bald head, goatee and tattoos from his travels around the country.

Better known as “Trucker Tom” for his weblog and podcasts, Wiles is a well-known name in the trucking blog world. His opinions range from angry to thoughtful, and he also includes movie reviews among his long list of commentaries. He started his blog about two years ago and began podcasting in mid-December. Since then, Apple has added his podcast to the iPod iTunes software, and he averages about 600 visits to his website a day.

What started as a hobby with an old Radio Shack computer in 1982 became his full-time job as a network administrator. But after spending years at a cubicle, office politics sent Wiles on the road, looking for a different career.

He started driving, but he didn’t desert his first love – technology.

Wiles’ blog, truckertom.blogspot.com, links to his other sites, including his podcast site, themarked.blogspot.com. Wiles updates his blog every two or three days, and his readers and listeners notice when he hasn’t been active.

“It’s sort of funny – I’ve had a number of people begin to wonder if something happened to me if I’m not posting something every day,” Wiles says.

The concept of hundreds of people interested in the life of one truck driver seems like an anomaly, but trucker blogs and podcasts interest a lot of people who are curious about the trucking industry. Wiles received so much mail from “wannabe truck drivers” that he created an entire podcast about how to become a truck driver, he says.

“A lot of people find an ordinary truckstop exotic, but it’s just mundane stuff to me,” Wiles says. “[Podcasting] is a grassroots way of listening to what people have to say.”

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