Rebecca Blood’s post called Weblogs: a History and Perspective was written in the year 2000 and thus contains information up to that point in the history of blogging.
The first thing that caught my interest amidst the names, dates, and computer language was that the term “weblogs,” was not a nifty word combining “web” and “blogs” and sharing the “b,” but it was, in fact, “web” and “logs.” While she didn’t say this outright – though Jill Walker does in the next article – I noticed it when she mentioned that the term went from “weblogs” to “wee-blogs” until it finally became just “blogs.” Thinking on this a little further, the use of the word “log” made perfect sense given what I already know.
Another bit that seemed to fit was when Brigitte Eaton evaluated submissions for her list of blogs by a single criteria: did the submission have dated entries? Thinking about this, I really don’t think there is anything else that really connects all blogs in their vast variety other than that.
It is weird to think that only people trained in HTML could be bloggers or, really, have their own website at all.
The later development that Blood seems fond of noting is the switch from a “passive audience” to a “participating public.” We are no longer sitting idly by while people tell us how things are and what we are required to think. We can question and discuss and understand things that used to be far outside our realm of reach.
Finally she mentioned that, while blogging, she learned what things she really liked and also felt her opinions and ideas were unique and important. That one can develop trust in one’s own perspective. This struck me quite hard as I doubt I’m alone in thinking, “How could anyone possibly care or find my thoughts valuable or worth hearing?” It’s pretty incredible that we had a medium available in which we can achieve that sort of state without having to become famous or join politics.
Jill Walker Rettberg has a much longer, PDF formatted, edition called Blogging, though we are only required to read the first chapter, “What is a blog?”
There is a quote at the end of the first paragraph, first chapter, that I adore: “A blog consists of more than words and images. It cannot be read simply for its writing, but the sum of writing, layout, connections and link, and the pace of publication.” The idea that we are presenting not only the writing and picture but an entire production of sorts to public view is intimidating, but it also feels empowering in that we can catch the eye of people from all over the world by our own actions and creations. This can be something really big if we strive for it.
Rettberg has several good points while driving towards some definition of a blog.
- An individual’s concept of what a “blog” is, is skewed by the different kinds of blogs one reads.
- There are different kinds of blogs:
- Diary-style – usually more private, stories of one’s life told to certain groups of family, friends, etc
- Filter-style – usually posts about what one has found online combined with personal commentary
- Topic-Driven – 1+ topics that the author/editor is interested in, with links connecting to other similar topic sources, filtering content for the reader
- Social media is a king of blogging, though usually considered “microblogging” i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, etc
Finally, Rettberg gets to the crux of the chapter: What is a blog?
It depends on if one considers a blog to be a medium of writing or a genre of it.
She first states that Wikipedia defines a blog as “a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries typically displayed in reverse chronological order”November 1st, 2001.
This would be the best definition if one claims a blog to be a medium and thus can include things like company newsletters.
As a genre, the definition can be a little more ambiguous. Evan Williams, a co-founder of the site Blogger, stated three characteristics to define a blog: frequency, brevity, and personality. I think that the brevity part can be vary depending on who is posting, what they’re posting, and what medium they use to do so. Frequency, I believe is necessary to hold an audience’s attention, though not so often they can’t keep up. Personality is what makes us read a little bit and not what to stop. It creates a point of interest another blogger or site would not be able to achieve.
The final criteria I picked out was that it has to be in first person. Yes, this is obvious. These – usually – are not novels or short stories being posted.
The overall knowledge shared within the two articles are interesting. Some information repeated, some I already knew from my own experiences on blogging websites, and some was entirely new. I never considered that someone would want to write a diary in view of potentially thousands of people.
These articles gave me a real sense of perspective on blogging and its sheer volume of reach in both topics and population.