They began in the late 1990s as personal Web sites for hobbyist-authors to climb on their soapboxes, voice their opinions and reveal their daily activities to the whole wide world. Today, there are more than 17 million "blogs"-short for weblogs-and they're making their way into the business world, including the world of insurance."Weblogs have such a strong appeal to Web users," says Julie Ferguson, a communications consultant for Lynch, Ryan & Associates, a Westborough, Mass.-based workers' compensation consulting firm. "They're an important source of information, and if companies do them right, they speak with a more authentic voice than other forms of communication."

Lynch Ryan takes credit for launching the first insurance weblog in 2003. Called Workers Comp Insider (www.workerscompinsider.com), it provides commentary on news related to workers' compensation, risk management, business insurance, workplace health and safety, occupational medicine, and injured workers. It also contains links to insurance news sources and insurance Web tools.

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