Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blogs vs. Journals

The hubbub about the recent blogsearch addition to google has forced me to address the issue. I do not want to address it, I'm not even sure what I'm going to write at this point. I just know that I need to address the larger issue of what a blog really is.

I'm frightened by the way in which the word blog has exploded to mean nearly everything that is now posted on a website. People look at everything on the web and wonder if it's a blog or just a website. It's like someone looking at a garbage can with a banana peel sticking out and wondering if it's art.

No, it's a banana peel sticking out of a garbage can. B A N A N A S.

People try to define what a blog is every day. I respect people's ideas about blogs, and appreciate how nearly anybody can write a blog nowadays. I know I'm getting myself into trouble by writing this now, but I think there needs to be some concrete definition of a blog. We need to follow it and respect it so that people aren't using the term blog to mean anything on the web, which completely takes any meaning of the word away.

I'm not going to attempt a definition today, I just realized that I really don't have the gumption. I just wanted to show you what I believe might not be a blog, and tell you why.

1. The random livejournal a person writes about themselves.
While it may be voyeuristic and sort of fun to read about a stranger's life, I dont regard this as a blog in any regard. In my opinion, a livejournal where a person just writes about themselves serves very little purpose besides making the person feel special. The person is also able to sound off about things he or she is afraid to tell their friends in person (ie: I hate Mandy's new hair color, what does she think she is a troll?) Personally I think the livejournal phenomenon is creating a generation of kids who will be too uncomfortable and awkward around each other to socialize properly. Instead people will run to their computers to write down how they are really feeling. As an English teacher, the spelling and grammar also drive me crazy.

2. The random link journal.
A journal where a person just puts up links and comments next to the links. I've already spoken about and why I dont believe it should be listed as a blog. These websites are like picking up a yellow pages only to find the listings are posted randomly. The reason why is so popular is because it's something to do when you are bored. It's fun. Fun does not equal a blog.

3. The Celebrity Personal Experience Journal
I love the idea of celebrities sharing personal experiences to give other's hope about fighting cancer or some other tragedy. But this is not a blog, it is a common thread. The reason why it's called a blog is because the term is currently hip. These journals are akin to Chicken Soup for the Soun books. If you put one of those books on the web, it would not be a blog.

I know I'm not ready to nail down a definition just yet, but I think I can restrict what a blog is. A blog must be about something outside of yourself using an editorial voice, which means that merely writing about yourself and what happened during your day doesn't count. That is primarily about you. A blog must comment on an issue, or react to an article or another blog. Please people, lets try and work together to find a proper definition for blog before the term becomes meaningless.

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