In a Steve Outing E-media post Interactive editor Ken Sands (of the Spokesman-Review in Washington) explains his distaste for the term “blog”.
"One way to avoid the continuing debate about whether blogging is journalism is to avoid the ‘blog’ label. I have now begun to talk about ‘interactive column writing’ as a potentially great journalistic practice. That’s not very catchy, but at least it doesn’t carry the blog baggage. Some people have a very narrow definition of blogging. And much of the journalistic potential that I envision strays pretty far from that definition."Ken is deftly on target. It is too easy for media folk to dismiss something called a “blog”. Can you blame them? Many of today’s discussions around blogging and journalism chase the red herring of the form rather than the function. The “blog” sometimes prevents a healthy discussion about what’s really at stake - how to become more relevant and responsive to your readers.
No, not all blogs are online diaries. Case in point: Digital Photography Review. Its home page looks somewhat like a blog in the traditional form, but it’s not an online diary. It’s a news site dedicated to digital photography, with insanely thorough reporting on the industry - breaking news, trade show coverage, software updates and equipment reviews. To call it a blog would grossly misrepresent its content. The tools behind most “blogs” are excellent, inexpensive content management tools. Whatever you chose to publish with it, defines the blog. Not the form.
Which leads us to explain why we were attracted to pMachine, the CMS engine behind our this page. The “p” stands for publishing. pMachine can be used to publish a newspaper, magazine, newsletter, PR wire, discussion forum, or an online diary. That its default visual form closely resembles a traditional blog form is probably more of a marketing decision than an intent to push the blog form.
We’ll save our commentary on blog discussions that devolve into debates about the definition of “journalism” for another post.…
though easy-to-use publishing tools engendered the rise of short-form diaries--the blog-style weblog--the original weblogs were filters, and this remains one of the most interesting uses of the form, to my mind. you can read more about it in my essay weblogs: a history and perspective.
I think it’s important to separate out the various functions weblogs can serve: too often personal publishing is conflated with weblogs is conflated with online presence, etc. people attribute the effects of one to the other and conversations become muddied.
Some of the popularity among blogs has to do with needs and human behavior. Such a time of growth and change for humanity hasn’t been experienced since the birth of communication and language. In a relatively short period of time, the internet has been able to provide a large portion of the world near instant access to so much information, for most it’s just overwhelming. We haven’t had an opportunity to completely react yet, let alone adapt, to the changes it will make in how we live our lives. In many cases, we’re not even able to access or find the information we want or need due to the sheer quantity of sites and information.
Most people would like one or two sources that they feel they can trust and rely upon to provide them with the information that they feel relevant to their lives. Others seek to promote the internet as an open information and idea exchange forum. But with so many voices speaking at once, we’re simply not prepared to hear on such a scale, yet.
The truth is, most of us just don’t have the time to fully utilize the internet as a resource, and so inevidably look toward others to provide it for us. While the inherently interactive element among blogs brings some satisfaction to the more altruistic ‘open forum of information’ individuals. Blogs represent the first of many steps we will take along our path of continually evolving interfaces and filters. Each designed to better contain or cope with our individual need to be heard.