What is a Blog?
A Blog is a completely new sort of medium, short for “weblog,” invented around 1999, that functions as anything from an online diary to an online soapbox. It is a website, generally hosted by a domain that hosts many more and forms a “blogging community,” but often just left alone. The two largest companies that promote this form of communication are LiveJournal and Blogger, though many other such things exist. Blogger coined the term “Blog,” and runs by far the largest community. I would describe them in depth, but why do that, when I can link?
It’s easy to find sample blogs or livejournals on the pages. Just search around. Take a minute or two.
In this hypertext, we will be discussing primarily Blogger, since LiveJournal hosts livejournals, not blogs. And LiveJournal has some different features that slightly change the nature of the community (instead of linking to other blogs on the side, one adds in other Livejournal “friends,” so only other LJ users are linked to).
Connection in the Blogosphere
After reading a bunch of articles on these things, I’ve noticed that no one has really talked about the Blogging community so much. I wanted to talk a little about my personal experience, discuss what it means, and touch upon why blogging is so different from keeping a journal. I think, from here, I’ll be able to talk about some other things, from flaming, to blogging names, to templates. All will be explained. Ultimately, I hope to show the purpose of a Blog, and what it tells us about our community.
I link to several people on my blog
Listed by posting name – web address – title – link name:
1. N/A – www.evilgrin.blogspot.com - Our Collective Loss of… Something – Loss of WHAT, DAMMIT?
2. Carter McKendry – www.carterama.blogspot.com - Kimochi Warui – Carter’s Blog
3. matt bernier – www.theholycucumber.blogspot.com - The holy Cucumber – Matt’s Blog
4. go hang a salami I’m a lasagna hog – www.pristinechristine.blogspot.com - Pristine Christine’s Machine – Christy’s Blog
5. Maria Mrowicki – www.celtic~fey.blogspot.com - Late Night Circles and Swirls… - Maria’s Blog
6. Greg Colby – www.sevenseas.blogspot.com - Seven Seas of Wheat Alternative Grain – Greg’s Blog
7. N/A – www.whocaresnews.blogspot.com - Who Cares? – Ben and Nick’s Stuff
8. Squyntz – www.livejournal.com/users/squyntz - Jess’s LiveJournal - Jess’s LJ
9. S – www.onthedrag.blogspot.com - On The Drag- Sid’s Blog
Any of these people or groups who carry links on their sites (4/9) link back to me, and all of those link back to the first seven in the list, and numbers two through seven participate in the Group Blog at the top of the list. This rings substantially of a very closed community. In fact, I check everyone’s Blog on the list daily, we comment on each other’s Blogs regularly. What does this say about why I’m using Blogger? To me, it says that all of us have a kind of dialogue running between us. When we post, we are distinctly aware of the presence of friends in the Blog Ether. No one’s speaking for themselves. We are updating each other, as though we were writing a long, self-involved e-mail without bothering to ask about the well-being of the receiver. The advantage of a Blog, in this respect, is that everyone reads it optionally.
Blogs as Diaries
Collin mentioned a blog being like a diary in one of his past entries, and I started responding to it, but now I will address it completely, since I’ve already begun. Above, I said that Blogs are written with the presence of others in mind. This is one distinct difference. When people Blog, they expect to be judged , and they are not writing primarily for themselves. They tend to want others to visit their site, and they often know the readers, and so are careful about the content. That said, it doesn’t mean that a Blog writer is decent by most standards in the process. Blogs can be about anything, from sex to crime. Nothing is untouchable.
Seabrook, Flaming, and Blogs
People write for the viewing of other people. These are people are not limited to friends. Anyone can read, especially if a Blog is “public” (listed). In fact, they are encouraged to by the numerous links to “recently published blogs” listed on the sides of Blogger. So if these things are so fabulously accessible, why aren’t they constantly flamed like the newsgroups and listservs of yore? Seabrook writes an entire chapter in Deeper about the seriousness of flaming in these settings, but Blogs, even though they have public access, comments and all, are generally left alone.
In my humble opinion, Blogs are untouched because they are the domain of the Blog user. Blogs begin to boarder on a kind of personal mass medium, because they come across as somewhat broadcast. Comments are available, but the website is not the visitors. It is the Blog user’s. This is very important. Blogs take away the sense of public domain that allows for flaming and alters it. Unlike e-mail, where one can send a flame from oneself to another, a flame here must be posted on the Blog, which is not the territory of the flamer.
Blogs, in this way, represent a more the perception of the Internet in 2002. When Seabrook wrote, the perception of the Internet was, in fact, as he describes it: “in” his head. Now, the Internet exists in everyone else’s head. It is easy to see the transition over the past few years from forums to blogs; the discourse has altered to accommodate the need for order. Though people are not necessarily polite, there is at least a personal area.
Audience and Journalism
Please refer to the most recent link from Collin: Go Tell It on the Blog. It’s back a few entries.
This article discusses an aspect of Blogging we have not yet covered: journalism. Tom Tomorrow (see link on sidebar) is an excellent example of this. He is a political cartoonist, who is extremely… well… political. This Modern World, the online version, is his digital zine, and it works. It is obvious why this article worries vaguely about the possibility of Blogs replacing traditional media. The digital noetic is inherently personal and informal, as Blogs are, and Blogs are an appropriate manifestation of this, though there are some important advantages to print publications, like containment and mobility, that, I believe, will keep them from being pushed under. The real issue is that Blogs permit things like News and Political Opinion to not necessarily have textual authority.
Blogging and Identity
Blogs perform several services to the user in establishing an online identity. Part of this is on the surface, in everything from the Blog’s title to the template used. All of these say something about the user to the public. Beyond that, though, is the idea that the Blog is the Blogger, just as much as a screen name on Instant Messenger is the user. More than that, though, the Blog is also an online home for ideas and identity that is difficult to attack. This is why the Blogging community is so cohesive, while remaining distinct. Everyone believes they are speaking to themselves, when instead they are having a conversation with the rest of the world.