News flash: This is a blog.
It appears that some people who post their news and opinions online on a daily or occasional basis have problems with the label “weblog” or “blog” and want to distance themselves from it as much as possible.
The argument invariably goes like this: Bloggers aren’t serious. The barrier for entry is low; one need not have much technical knowledge to get started, and since the barrier for entry is low, a blogger may not necessarily be a professional anything, and, by some opinions, might not be qualified to say much of anything. So the people who do what bloggers do but reject the label, presumably because they want to be taken more seriously, try to distance themselves from the phenomenon.
It’s similar in a way to my typical argument against talk radio. Most of the people whose opinions matter to me don’t have time to be calling in to radio talk shows.
The difference, I think, between blogs and talk radio is the way you filter through the stuff you care about. You can’t really do that with stuff that’s broadcast to you, other than blindly fumbling through station presets, but there’s no guarantee that the guy talking on the next station is going to have anything better to say than the one you came from.
Finding the good blogs is much easier. Visit a site like blo.gs and click on the most popular link. Search for a blog you read and like, and you can find out what blogs are “related” to it, based on what other blogs people who track that blog also track. You can go here to find some blogs that people who like my stuff also like.
And almost every blog–including mine, now–has a blogroll: a list of blogs the owner reads and recommends personally. See the same blog on multiple blogrolls, and you’ll start to get an idea who regularly has compelling things to say.
Or you can use Google. Google searches blogs just like it searches any other Web site. So far this month, more of my traffic comes from Google than from any other way. I have no way of knowing how many people who stumble upon this site from Google become daily visitors. That depends on whether I consistently deliver content that’s meaningful to them. It has nothing to do with what I call myself.
And getting back to the argument that serious professionals don’t blog, if the likes of San Jose Mercury columnist Dan Gillmor, professors Lawrence Lessig and Ed Felten, software pioneers Dan Bricklin and Ray Ozzie, InfoWorld columnist Jon Udell, and former Byte columnist Scot Hacker aren’t serious professionals, then frankly I don’t know who is. I’d be flattered to ever be mentioned in the same sentence as any one of them.
Compare their work to that of one large blog-like community, some of whose members violently reject the blog label as too amateurish. There you’ll find people who post new content every few months or so (or who have abandoned their sites altogether), or you’ll find people who talk about their household chores or their pets or what they ate for dinner as often as they talk about serious, professional matters.
And if you examine the typical blog versus the typical daynotes site, most blogs have sophisticated navigation, comments systems, archiving, integrated search, categorization, centralized notification (so you can visit one place, such as blo.gs, set up a list of favorites, and find out when your favorite sites have updated) and other niceties that make it easier to sift through the information they contain. That’s rare in the daynotes circuit. But without those niceties, given a few years’ worth of entries, the information contained inside can be at once substantial and overwhelming. Wisdom and insights are nice things, but they’re worthless if you can’t find them.
To compare the two aforementioned lists is to invite a butt-kicking. Who looks amateurish now?
Let’s face it: “blog” or “weblog” is just a word. Nothing else. To use a pretentious metaphor, you don’t see Rolls-Royce distancing itself from the word “car” just because they don’t want to be associated with Kia uses the label now and Yugo used the label in the past. Rolls-Royce raises the bar and Yugo definitely lowered it. But both products are machines with four wheels, an engine, and seats, designed for transportation.
Whatever the label, you’re talking about someone who keeps a journal online for all comers to read, and whatever the label, there’s no guarantee who has or doesn’t have compelling things to say.