Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whack-a-mole Polemics (part 2)

This is the second post in a series that explores blogging as a medium of public discourse.  Some terms need to be defined, but hopefully I can avoid being pelted by featherless bipeds.

The Essence of Blog
The blogosphere is the entire collection of blogs.  What is a blog?  Traditionally, a blog is a website with an index page that lists other webpages from that site in reverse chronological order.  I prefer to call the pages "blog posts" and the actual content of the post a "blog article."  Let's sharpen the scalpel a bit.  Plenty of websites display things in reverse chronological order, for instance: news aggregation websites, online forums, and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  What essentials are we missing?  For one, the blog articles are somewhat original; that is, at least partly authored by the blogger and not just a copy of  another source.  This excludes blog-looking sites that only post links or else summarize external information in some way.  Many of those sites are merely syndicating a feed based on some aggregation of information.  An example of such a news aggregator would be Google News.  There are also some peculiar social news aggregators out there like FARK, digg, and reddit.  I don't really consider them blogs, but they probably belong in this discussion about public discourse.  By the way, at the end of 2009 there were an estimated 126 million blogs on the internet.

Blog Versus Forum
What's the difference between a blog and an online forum?  To be brief: blogs are author-centric while forums are participant-centric.  Forums are usually policed by one or more moderators, and a forum member can start a new post (called a thread in forum terms).  Blogs are only policed by their authors, and whether or not anyone else can submit comments is completely up to the author.  There may be "guest posts" but only the blog author(s) publish blog articles.

Blogging on Twitter?
Is someone's Facebook wall or Twitter page considered a blog since it records their status updates (among other things)?  Hmm, that one is difficult.  The line between "status updating" and blogging is not clear to me.  Perhaps that can be explored later but for now we are just getting a basic definition for blogging.  I'm sure whatever conclusions we reach will probably apply to Facebook and Twitter discourse to some degree.

Now let's move beyond this triteness to more interesting analysis!  Here's a summary of what I came up with to distinguish blogs from other websites:
  • Index page that lists the posts in reverse chronological order
  • Author(s) publish new blog posts
  • Articles include original content
Did I miss anything?


Duck said...

I like the term "micro-blog" to describe Twitter myself.

I also like the term "complete waste of time" to describe Facebook.

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