Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Duff: Get personal, get interactive and get connected – in other words, blog

MICHAEL DUFF, interim online editor for The Avalanche-Journal, is sharing the Internet buzz in this new weekly column.

The word is everywhere: blogs, blogging, bloggers. Sometimes it’s a noun; sometimes it’s a verb. Some people even use it as an adjective. Everybody wants one, everybody talks about them, but even dedicated bloggers don’t really know what they are.

Blogs are hard to define because they can be so many things to so many people. The first blogs were electronic diaries – personal journals published on the Web. Quirky, emotional and intimate, these early blogs started a phenomenon that is changing the culture of media. These journals don’t really fit the modern definition of blogging, but they’re definitely worth a look. They even had their own awards (www.diarist.net).

The pioneer of blogging is a man named Jorn Barger. Jorn started a blog called Robot Wisdom (www.robotwisdom.com) in 1997, according to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. While the diarists were handing out long paragraphs of personal prose, Jorn was going the other way. Robot Wisdom is so sparse, it doesn’t even use complete sentences. Jorn’s style never really went mainstream, but no discussion about blogs would be complete without mentioning him.

The next blogging wave was news blogs. While the online diaries are about personal lives, news blogs are about the world. Written in an intimate first-person voice, news blogs are like columns in a newspaper – short, pithy and opinionated. News blogs today dominate the Internet, and every news organization on the planet, it seems, is trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Because of their subjective, personal nature, you can see why the word “blog” is hard to define.

Modern blogs, however, have three defining characteristics:

1. Blogs are personal. Blogs are written in first person, in a chatty, informal style that invites a personal connection with readers.

2. Blogs are interactive. Modern blogs allow comments, right below the entry itself. Some newspapers are trying to pass off their columns as blogs, but that doesn’t really fit. Blogs are a conversation. If you can’t talk back, it’s not a blog.

3. Blogs link to each other. Blogs are an Internet medium and the Internet is about person-to-people connections. Blogs are meant to be part of a global conversation.

If you’re not linking, you might as well be talking to yourself.

Written by Michael B. Duff

May 4, 2007 at 15:24

Posted in Columns

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