Monday, January 01, 2007

What is a Blog?

That's the question being asked over at Techcrunch today. Michael Arrington says this:

I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume. We’ve allowed comments here on TechCrunch since it started. At times, user comments can be painful to deal with. But they also keep the writer honest, and make the content vastly more interesting.

Should the definitions of “blog” be revised to exclude journals that do not allow reader comments? Yeah, absolutely. And Google may think so, too. At the end of their post, they write “And before long, perhaps you can begin leaving comments directly. We’re working on that.”

I'm not sure about this. Some bloggers, in fact, one of the first biggies, Glenn Reynolds, doesn't allow comments. His blog offers his opinions and really has become a news aggregate--a portal for news he thinks is important. He is like an editor of sorts. He goes through all kinds of information and sifts it and every once in a while feels moved to comment himself. Oftentimes, his links represent his views. Perhaps he's short on time or perhaps he feels that the linked author is more qualified or eloquent or first-hand. Whatever, everyone knows Glenn's views over time based on what he thinks is important. His blog is so well-read that comment moderation is nearly impossible. Unlike newspaper editors, Glenn actually has a job and a life outside media. He's just a news junkie who shares his fix with thousands, if not millions. But to not call his blog a blog? By nearly everyone's definition, Instapundit is a blog.

Arrington mentions Seth Godin as another big blogger who doesn't allow comments. He's a business/marketing author. I link to Godin and read him weekly. What would I call his blog if not a blog? Diary? Journal? Maybe that's more accurate, as there is no feedback. But so what? I get a really smart consultant's advice for free.

I tend to cut the biggies slack in the comment department. Keeping up with comments when you're busy or don't really care much about the topic--just enough to share it, can be wearisome. In fact, I'm just a teensy, weensy toad, and I had to change my commenting format to force one impolite poster to use a name. Of course, said person chose not to and emailed me to say that she would move on. So maybe I'll allow anonymous commenting again. I think some people feel more secure semi-cloaked. They also tend to write what they would never say in person. Sometimes this can be more honest. Sometimes, they should just keep their exuberance to themselves.

The blogosphere is so big, that I think there is room for all types of bloggers. As the Blog Awards demonstrated, all sorts of people blog. They possess unique strengths and styles. Some write long editorials. Some just give you useful info nice and sweet.

They're all blogs to me.

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