There's been a loose thread in blogland recently: people writing about what blogs are or what is required to make something a blog. It's 2023 so you would have thought this would be locked down by now and we'd all have a firm understanding of what a blog actually is.
Manu starts by trying to determine what a Minimum Viable Blog looks like: what is the bare minimum we can get away with for a site to be called a blog based on the definition from wikipedia.
"an informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts)"
I've cut that short and I'll go into why a bit later.
Tracy Durnell takes a different approach by asking what is the 'blogness' of a blog. What distinguishes the blog as a medium and differentiates it from other types of personal websites?
"I know when I’m reading a blog because it feels like a blog — but what is it about the writing that gives me that feeling?"
We get caught up in the trappings of technology but, as Tracy says, it "enables but does not solely define blogness".
Bix quotes Tracy but extends the discussion. He opines that writing on the web isn't new, just that the location or format of that writing has changed and developed. We can trace the history of blogging back to years before the "weblog" itself was the agreed upon nomenclature.
One point Bix makes is that blogging is differentiated from other online formats (like social media) because “bloggers almost always are writing because they can’t not”. This is something I've mentioned on a number of occasions: I am always dragged back to the blog whether I've spent time writing elsewhere or taken a complete break. The blog is a part of me, an extension of me, and I get frustrated when I go without it for too long.
Amit wrote about reading Writing is my Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor and the title of that book sums up what Bix is getting at. Blogging can be like an addiction, something that you can't live without, something that grabs you and won't let go.
To return to the earlier point, the Wikipedia definition of a blog continues:
"Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page."
Typically, but not mandatory. My site is testament to that and it is certainly a blog. It also says:
"blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject or topic. In the 2010s, "multi-author blogs" (MABs) emerged, featuring the writing of multiple authors and sometimes professionally edited."
This is where we start getting into muddy waters.
I always go back to Dave Winer in his 2003 piece that a blog is the unedited voice of a person. The blogness of a blog is exactly that: the sense of a person, an individual sharing their thoughts with the world. Not a group and certainly nothing that is edited by someone other than the author. If not the writing of a single person it is a collection, a gathering, or compendium.
I would even go so far as to say that a true blog must be a personal endeavour, not just a series of posts about a single subject or topic. That may be presented in a blog-like format but will not have that blogness.
@colinwalker this hits home for me.
“The blogness of a blog is exactly that: the sense of a person, an individual sharing their thoughts with the world. Not a group and certainly nothing that is edited by someone other than the author.”