Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Technology: what is a blog?

( Cartoon from

I've had to explain various times what a blog is. So I liked the blogpost by Jack Vinson on how to explain blogs and RSS. Jack writes: 'Blogs are places where you can read the regular writings of friends, colleagues, clients or industry experts. You'll find a variety of writing styles, from journalistic to informal. The articles tend to be less formal than journalistic or academic writing, and you will find writers who post things every day and those who post weekly. The ideas for articles frequently come from articles that have been posted elsewhere on blogs (such as this one), or in the newspaper or in current events. Articles range from a few sentences to lengthy discussions, though most tend to be shorter.

I used to explain that a blog is an online diary format, with archives, resorting to explaining the technical features, and I do forget to mention the RSS aspect, which goes with blogs. But of course what would be much more interesting to explain is the blogging culture and subcultures (blogosphere), which consists of the habits of people blogging. Bloggers have gotten used to using the technical format for certain purposes like emphasizing links (blogs function often as infomediary places), making their thoughts explicit, commenting on blogposts etc. This allows people to stay in touch with each other's ideas and occupations and enables a wider group of people to stay in touch with ideas, activities, readings, etc.. It's like the informal talk to your colleagues in the corridor, but made accessible to a much larger group. The blog rhythm (daily, weekly) makes for very dynamic, easy to read and 'here and now' content, personally I hardly go through the archives of blogs I know.

A little later Jack pointed to a blog which consists of only pdf files. I think that's just a different means of using a blog, but may be an odd one out in terms of the predominant 'blogosphere' culture. I think travel or baby blogs written for friends maybe another means of using the format, and may have its own subculture.

Anecdote then started to collect stories about the most significant change that blogging made:

  1. Describe a story that epitomises the most significant change that has resulted from your blogging .
  2. Why was this story significant for you?

The now 17 responses are interesting and show a wide variety, from reading and writing more consciously, via power over your own virtual identity, providing an uncensored platform and seeing intimate opinions, to invitation to speak at conferences and making friends or deepening friendships. So next time when I'll explain what a blog is, I'll be much more careful in stressing these kinds of aspects of blogging!

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