One thing about the internet that’s interesting, but confusing, are memes. A big part of it runs on memes. Ideas that spread like a virus. Emoticons, lols, rick rolls, I CAN HAZ CHEESEBURGER, etc. This is natural because the web is in essence a community of people and not just a portal of information. It also happens because one aspect of the internet that separates it from other media, is that in engages you in a active way. You just don’t consume it; you participate in it. One old meme that’s having people splitting their hairs recently is the blog or blogging.
“The term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The short form, “blog,” was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May of 1999. This was quickly adopted as both a noun and verb (“to blog,” meaning “to edit one’s weblog or to post to one’s weblog”).
As you can see, “blog” started as a play with words. Just like any other meme. It was never meant as a concrete description. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, a new non-fiction genre. The closest thing it resembled are diary’s, but with the irony of being public. But every internet meme tends to have a life of it’s own. They can go from a simple idea to a complex concept very quickly. They are difficult to grasp and nothing excites or puzzles bloggers more than the idea of a blog.
Bloggers love to blog about blogging and blogs. -I wrote the sentence like that to show that they’re just running the meme-. They feel like pioneers of an art form they have mastered, specially the ones that have been doing it for years, but they’re just as confused as the rest of us. Their defining and re-defining something that’s probably impossible to define because memes are amorphous concepts that change, evolve, or die. Some bloggers are quitting, tired, or filled with sappy nostalgia because blogging has gotten too competitive and businesslike.
Bloggers also have a condition that I like to call “The Techcrunch Conundrum”. “Is it really a blog?” If a blog is published by a group of people is it still a blog?” I don’t think those questions can have a satisfying answer. All I know is that there’s nothing personal or relational about “a to z round funding”, “angel or devil investors” or “alexa graph data”. They’re just a business that just does things to increase their business value. I don’t think Michael Arrington really cares if people view the site as a blog or not. He only defends the “blogging craft” when journalists call foul on him.
Blogging definitely has changed, and it will keep on changing, but to think that a “blog” is a perfectly defined noun, then your fooling yourself. I agree that if all you have to say is that you ate a sandwich, then opening a twitter account is way more simple and effective than opening a Worpress or Blogger account or god help you, self hosting. But there’s no blogging police. There are no blogging rules that are set in stone. These new alternatives to blogging provide the things that blogs provided like communicating with peers and friends, share links, share photos, etc., but even before blogging went pop, there were chat services and forums. If anything, a blog is just one form out of many forms, to participate and provide content online.
Links that helped and inspired this post: