What is a blog, really?
Janice P. talked to me about blogging for an article for a McMaster publication and we got talking about guilt and blogging. Like the journals I used to keep and the research note books I kept up until I started this blog, I feel guilty if I don’t post on a regular basis (lets say once a week.)
On her blog she comments on guilt and blog death. (Hi JP!)
I wonder if the blog hasn’t reopened all our worries around journals and immortalizing everyday thoughts. Someone must have written on this.
So what is a blog? I would distinquish between two senses of “blog”.
1. Blog software like Movable Type or Greymatter. This software can be used for journal-like sequences or for other uses. For example, in the Ivanhoe project we used Greymatter to run a prototype of a game and in other cases I have seen group blogs that look a lot like Web archives of small e-mail conferences.
2. Blog culture. This is what is interesting. The software is just a variant on Web based discussion systems, but the variant has been designed and used in an interesting and coherent way that connects to a genre of writing we all know – the journal. Blogger (I think) deserves credit for getting the paradigm right, offering it for free, and promoting people’s blogs. Dave Winer of Scripting News also deserves credit for recognizing blogging, promoting it, and adapting Frontier to fit the paradigm.
Blog culture seems to be taking shape like just about everything else in the mediasphere. A small number of people/entities get lots of attention while most participate vicariously running essentially private and unread blogs.
Browsing quickly on the issue of blogs I note that there is now discussion about an “Alist” of blogs that get most of the attention. You can go to Top 100 feeds and see who they are. There is also a discussion about how blogs, because they link to each other closely, end up distorting Google. Google may rank higher a blog entry about something than a well thought out site/page on the subject. Hmmm … more to research.