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What Blogs Are vs What They Are Not
April 29, 2005 9:19 PM   Subscribe

What Blogs Are vs What They Are Not Doc Searls' closing keynote at Les Blogs, Paris, 25 April 2005 A succinct set of 25 slides that articulate the debate raging in the blogosphere about blogs, free speech, the media, citizen journalists . Slides link courtesy Gaping Void.
posted by infini (33 comments total)

 
Better than I thought it would be. Indeed, Dan Gillmor's was careful to ensure his statements apply to amateur journalists / online denizens, not just "bloggers", which always warms my heart. Despite rumours to the contrary, there are still a lot of people posting original content and opinion on the internet that's not in reverse-chronological order.

It amazes me the lengths some people will go to in order to claim to be "journalists" - if Doc Searl's presentation spoke one thing to me, it's that this is not even necessary. Fuck journalism. Fuck trying to claim to offer an "alternative" to CNN. It's not even about that. (Never mind that those who cry loudest to be recognised as the "new new journalism" are often producing nothing but opinion and hyperlinks. Actual first-hand reporting of news on weblogs is a rare and marvellous thing.) It's just about getting stuff out there, not New-York-Times-envy. This slide captures that fairly well.
posted by Jimbob at 9:49 PM on April 29, 2005


i like how doc breaks it down so that if blogs are journals (which they obviously are)

and if one loves to write journals

then one is a journal ist.

genius.
posted by tsarfan at 10:12 PM on April 29, 2005


Ah, Jimbob, your comment warms the cockles of my heart. Yea, verily, your words, to wit,

It amazes me the lengths some people will go to in order to claim to be "journalists" - if Doc Searl's presentation spoke one thing to me, it's that this is not even necessary. Fuck journalism. Fuck trying to claim to offer an "alternative" to CNN. It's not even about that.

really resonate with what I am thinking and conceiving about this new medium. In fact, blogs aren't a medium, like print, television or radio, they are virtual communities, forums - in the original Greek sense of the word, where people gathered to hear Socrates speak, and to debate and discuss. I will go even further (I'm in an expansive mood, I just resigned from the dullest day job ever) and say that the blogospere is but a collection of coffee houses - just like in London, back when Doctor Johnson sat with his cronies and talked.
posted by infini at 10:22 PM on April 29, 2005


I'm not as impressed tsarfan. The term came from persons who wrote for journals. Journal writers such as Doc mentions are diary writers. I don't equate diarists with reporters.

That doesn't mean his point is lost. I could see bloggers as amatuer journalists. Almost. The Wikipedia entry for journalists lists the main difference between professional and amatuer journalists:

"the term journalist carries a connotation or expectation of professionalism in reporting, with consideration for truth and ethics."

Many bloggers fail the test "consideration for truth and ethics." And I do not believe the term "blogger" carries a connotation of professionalism.

That doesn't mean the term will never achieve equal status with journalist. I think we bloggers are in the infant stage of revising a tool to promote and ensure free speech. We are the pamphleters for the 21st century.
posted by ?! at 10:35 PM on April 29, 2005


Holy shit! Why does anyone need a definition of "what blogs are vs. what they are not."

This is an old trick for insipid media whores to grease the wheels of access and privilege. Once there's a fuzzy definition for your "demographic", one can pick, sell, sculpt and denounce in the time honoured tradition of Capital.

Blogs can be anything you want it to be, it's a broad church.

Oh and p-fucking-s. There's no debate raging in the 100 or so blogs I keep up with, and I bet this "debate raging" is limited to a finely grained subset of people who let their "hit counters" and venture capital bash in their higher-brain functions. It's all very crap public-relations. Horrid.
posted by gsb at 1:59 AM on April 30, 2005


Exactly, qsb.

It's funny how a person can read 100 different blogs, or even 1,000, and think they know what constitutes the blogging universe. Or what most bloggers think about themselves or what they do. When there are millions of blogs, making up definitions to fit 1% or even 5% of those is just insular and myopic.

There's a small set of bloggers who love to conduct this menta masturbation about "who" they are when they blog, whether they're legitimate journalists, whether the rest of the world should take them as seriously as they take themselves.

Meanwhile, the rest of us normal folks just keep on blogging.
posted by yarf at 4:24 AM on April 30, 2005


Somehow I don't feel that yarf or gsb actually read the slideshow, or, if they did, focused on one little bit instead of the whole. The definition of blog that it provides is extremely wide. Far from 1% or 5%, it covers pretty much any blog I've ever seen, from LiveJournal to MeFi to LGF to...well, pretty much everything. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but overall it's a wide enough definition to cover the vast majority.
posted by Bugbread at 5:25 AM on April 30, 2005


i guess if this ever becomes a real legal issue, there may be a way around it for bloggers ... get a dba in the county one lives in and call the company "whatever news agency" ... there's some expense involved, but as long as you're not making money, not much

if the election commission tries to enforce rules like this on the internet, i expect massive disobedience ... the government's NOT going to tell me what i can talk about on the internet
posted by pyramid termite at 5:43 AM on April 30, 2005


bugbread, my faux outrage is reserved for the *need* or idea of classification, or any kind of definition.

A standards organisation comes along and says "this is one kilometre" or "this is one gram" and that helps people -- like scientists, engineers and so forth -- do their job under a universal remit.

Excluding the qualifications of anybody to define what blogs are vs. what they are not; what is the point of this exercise? First Amendment Rights vs. the FCC? Citizen what? Do people realise there's a World outside of America? It's bloody ironic that someone shows up in France preaching about this kind of stuff.

Oh, it should evident by now that I saw the slideshow... sorry, the talker decides the boundaries and I'm just bouncing around in them. Just grep "blogs are", "they are" and the endless lists of stuff.

And I have to say, in all honesty, when I saw a picture of Dave Winer I just wanted give up right there. Sure, podcasting is soooooo kewl, getting all kinds of hype and funding, but when I see Dave next to Tim Berners-Lee how the fuck am I supposed to take this seriously. Especially when one considers Dave Winer *did not* create syndicated feeds (RSS in all of its flavours) and its aftermath, all by himself.
posted by gsb at 6:22 AM on April 30, 2005


Yarf, "Meanwhile, the rest of us normal folks just keep on blogging." And when those who do the defining for legal purposes, determine that black is white, we're the ones that get run over by zebras, because we were busy blogging when they were busy defining what we do for the judges of this world.

GSB: "Why does anyone need a definition..? Because if we don't do the defining, others will. In fact, others already are. I think what this Searls guy is trying to do is cut the bad guys off at "The Pass" as it were. We saw not too long ago what The Law could do in regards to music: convince people that sharing music was theft and therefore illegal. Searls doesn't want the same thing to happen to text.

However, depending on how one presents the proliferation of information over the Internet to a jury, that can very well happen in the next decade or so, which would pretty much put an end to our little party here. Wouldn't it? Think I'm alarmist? Fine. A few years ago, I honestly didn't think the Powers That Be would win the war against Napster. Yet here we are.

Pyramid Termite: "if the election commission tries to enforce rules like this on the internet, i expect massive disobedience ... the government's NOT going to tell me what i can talk about on the internet" I honestly expected "massive disobedience" in response to the RIAA attempting to tell us how we could share music, but we all pretty much just laid down and let them rape our rights out of our orifices didn't we? We were afraid of getting our ears ripped off, so we "let the wookie win" so to speak. So yeah, I listen to alarmists. I am one. I will say when I think the sky is falling, not that it does any good. I'm not a journalist. People listen to journalists.

I like my Online Journal, piece of shit that it is. I like being able to type the word "shit" on the Internet when I feel like it. I also used to enjoy sharing music on the Internet. I don't anymore. Five or ten years from now, if writing on the 'Net is considered "transport" of "information" and the concept of free speech is redefined through legalese, then those who can actually fight may let the damned wookie win again. And don't you dare tell me that I'm the one who has to do the fighting, because I tried to fight the last battle we lost, and my actions had absolutely no leverage whatsoever.

...

I do disagree with the concept that 'bloggers' are in fact journalists. Since 1997 I have considered myself a "journaller" (yes, with TWO L's thank you very much). I did try the "journalist" moniker for a brief time. I also tried on the "blogger" moniker for awhile. Though my online journal's present incarnation does resemble to a small extent the Web Log look, I still refer to it as an Online Journal. I'm no journalist. That word has connotations and 'baggage' that I'd rather not carry with me. If I were to start going around in my offline life calling myself a 'journalist' cuz I write in an Online Journal, people would laugh me off the street. If I were a journalist, use of that word would grant me some respect, but it doesn't. Calling myself a journalist is as absurd as calling myself a chef just because I own a microwave.

I am a writer, and have been one since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Though admittedly when I was that young I wrote on walls and sidewalks and car upholstery. If I were a journalist, I'd be 'published.' I'd be 'professional.' I'd be 'accomplished.' If I were a journalist, perhaps someone would actually pay attention to what I had to say when I say the sky is falling, but they don't. Or maybe I'm just a REALLY BAD journalist? HA! No thank you. I'd rather just be a RATHER UNIMPORTANT journaller who likes what he does, than to be graded on a curve that has no relevance to what I do.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:26 AM on April 30, 2005


gsb : " bugbread, my faux outrage is reserved for the *need* or idea of classification, or any kind of definition."

I dunno. To me the need for definitions seems pretty much self-explanatory. For instance, I'm going to have dinner soon. My dinner is not a blog. It is curry. And eating it is not blogging. It is eating curry. Without a definition, vague as need be, how can you talk about "blogging"?
posted by Bugbread at 6:39 AM on April 30, 2005


We are the pamphleters for the 21st century.

Exactly. Pamphleteers and Web Sites.
posted by ericb at 7:03 AM on April 30, 2005


>how can you talk about "blogging"?

Exactly, why should we. Is there any reason for this other than the creation and reinforcements of Markets. Just look at who organises these conferences.

And the rest of your answer is a bit immature, no? Unless you're talking about blogs leading to egestion.
posted by gsb at 7:06 AM on April 30, 2005


gsb : " >how can you talk about 'blogging'?

"Exactly, why should we."


I dunno. Because we want to? There need be no "should" for everything. Why should I post in Mefi? Why should you get upset? It just seems mighty surreal to argue against someone defining something.

gsb : " And the rest of your answer is a bit immature, no?"

How so? You need to know what a word means in order to use it. So we're defining blogging. Saying it shouldn't be defined is silly; if it has no definition, no meaning, then it can be used for anything. It becomes the equivalent of the word "smurf" in smurflanguage. I offered two examples of how blogging does have some meaning, but it is currently largely in the "I don't know what pornography is, but I know it when I see it" state. A definition of blogging will make the word more precise and less contentious. I'm not clear on what makes that immature.
posted by Bugbread at 7:11 AM on April 30, 2005


I blogged your mother.

There. Now THAT is immaturity. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 7:34 AM on April 30, 2005


It seems there a conscious effort to ignore nearly all of my sentiments, both in your curry is a curry, that's why we need to define blogging etc. etc.

I thought the totality of my answer did not warrant that kind of -- what I thought was a bit facetious (not immature, sorry) -- response.

Who defines it, what is their function, and why are they doing it?

It was there in my first post, the second and the third.

Of course, only a complete fucking moron would say let's not define anything. That's why I said:

>A standards organisation comes along and says "this is one kilometre" or "this is one gram" and that helps people -- like scientists, engineers and so forth -- do their job under a universal remit.

>Excluding the qualifications of anybody to define what blogs are vs. what they are not; what is the point of this exercise? First Amendment Rights vs. the FCC? Citizen what? Do people realise there's a World outside of America? It's bloody ironic that someone shows up in France preaching about this kind of stuff.

Now, one could conveniently ignore that and latch on to the first line, "bugbread, my faux outrage is reserved for the *need* or idea of classification, or any kind of definition.", which is pretty much how you classified my first post, when you suggested I had not read the slideshow.
posted by gsb at 7:51 AM on April 30, 2005


blogosphere.

*snicker*
posted by quonsar at 8:09 AM on April 30, 2005


I apologize for having angered you.
posted by Bugbread at 8:16 AM on April 30, 2005


the reason why it's important right now to define what blogging is, is because, as Doc points out, if it is defined by BushCo and the FCC as "content", then it can be regulated and fined and censored

whereas if it is speech or simply writing, then bloggers will be able to have the protections of the First Amendment.

so yeah, its a pretty big deal.
posted by tsarfan at 8:56 AM on April 30, 2005


I honestly expected "massive disobedience" in response to the RIAA attempting to tell us how we could share music
and it happened ... people haven't stopped and very few of the ones who do it are getting sued ... people are disobeying, they're just not being loud about it

i'm certain that not only will people disobey any government "blogging" rules, but they'll be loud about it, too
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 AM on April 30, 2005


i never thought i'd be too impressed by anything doc searls wrote (navel gazing, journalistic fallacy, and all), or coming out of any kind of 'framing debate' (Lakoff). bloggers, in that "i have a blog and i'm gonna use it" sense, make me ill. junior marshall mcluhans or anyone using the word 'taxonomies' make me ill. i'd like to see them have to spend an hour working community service in a homeless shelter for every minute they spend creating del.icio.us tags. but that was impressive in its complete clarity and apparent necessity.

good post. best of web.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2005


We allowed them to turn us into outlaws, Pyramid Termite. I don't call that being loud. I call that waking up one morning and going, "oh. So I'm an outlaw now. That's cool." We let the wookie win, because if we became loud, if we protested, we'd metaphorically get our limbs ripped off, or so we feared. Maybe technically music file sharing does now qualify as civil disobedience, but if so, it's a quiet, passive aggressive act that's not going to help us win this war for inalienable rights. Searls is positing that if we don't do something now, five or ten years from now (maybe sooner) diarists and journallers will also wake up one morning and go, "oh. So I'm an outlaw now. That's cool." How hot does the water have to get before the lobsters realize they're in a kitchen?
posted by ZachsMind at 9:42 AM on April 30, 2005


it's the blogosphere vs. the MSM!

btw, kaedrin has been wondering just that same thing :D
posted by kliuless at 9:48 AM on April 30, 2005


You can't separate writing or journaling or anything from "content" anymore tho. Everything online is content and can be regulated i think, given the current climate. Am I writing these words, or creating content?
posted by amberglow at 12:00 PM on April 30, 2005


You are writing, Amber. Others choose to perceive what you write as content. What may inevitably happen is a decision will come down from somewhere that everyone is entitled to write what they want, but that they will be subjected to some form of editorial regulation after what they write is written and posted on the Web. Of course, some can argue that it will never come to that, while others can easily argue this is already happening.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:09 PM on April 30, 2005


I think it's already happening, or has happened. Even every page here makes reference to it--All posts are © their original authors.

Content is copyrighted.
posted by amberglow at 12:15 PM on April 30, 2005


yes, metafilter is a content management system. (ok, a stripped down cms, but a cms.) i may write. you may write. but is all becomes content when submitted.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:52 PM on April 30, 2005


zachsmind - my only answer to that is we may eventually, in many ways, be forced to make the choice between being outlaws and slavish followers ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:41 PM on April 30, 2005


here's another one by tom coates...

oh and btw :D
Simmons captured the tone of the Road Ramblings by writing that "we may finally have an answer to the question 'what if one of our friends was an NBA player and sent us emails about his life every few days?'" That sense of closeness – which the best bloggers communicate through a combination of casual prose and unobtrusively intimate perspective – is what makes good blogs, like the Road Ramblings, so compelling. And the NBA, increasingly desperate to connect with its increasingly alienated audience, is trying to use blog-style journals to build that connection...

Shirley's writing reflects a potent distaste for mythos and message discipline... "Most athletes have been taught to tell only a partial version of the truth because they think that to tell the whole story will eventually 'burn' them," Shirley says. "My problem is that I get bored way too easily and have to amuse myself by coming up with new thoughts and answers."

...Blogging, as an unedited style of discourse, would seem to be an escape from both the noisy scorn-loop of sports media and the NBA's damage-control brand management, but the Blog Squad fails at this: Its blogs are too on-message and too dull to connect with any audience... And Shirley knows this. "I think my side of things resonates with people like me – white guys who were raised in middle-class homes and dreamed of playing a sport professionally," he says...

Sadly, Shirley probably won't be answering that question in future entries. "I doubt the blog continues," he says. "It was more tiring than I thought, and it was difficult for me to keep things within the bounds of what was appropriate for the Suns' Web site." A book deal may be in Shirley's future; for now, he's an enthusiastic fan of blogging. "I love the idea because it cuts out the middleman, as it were, and allows more people to find a common ground," he says -- but can't resist undercutting that sunny note with the cynical wit that took him from the end of the Suns' bench to the top of NBA fans' Internet Explorer favorites: "I am sure it will be ruined within a decade."
cheers!
posted by kliuless at 8:48 PM on April 30, 2005


Bradley Smith will clean up this whole problem. Helloo theocracy !
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 PM on April 30, 2005


Well Pyramid, guess I better go polish my spurs.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:58 PM on April 30, 2005


hmmmm..:D
A blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons laboratory, is threatening to end the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos... Several outside experts said that the director's quick departure was inevitable and that the blog's attacks were playing a significant role. "Nanos is leaving," said Greg Mello, the director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a private organization in Albuquerque that monitors weapons laboratories. "The blog changed the climate, giving people an outlet they didn't have before."

...The blog (www.lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com) went public in January and since then has registered more than 100,000 visits, with more than half a million pages viewed and more than 5,000 comments. Discussions run on a variety of topics, from the sanctity of retirement benefits to the likely identity of the next contractor who will run Los Alamos.

Since most messages are anonymous, there is no way to know how many laboratory employees contribute to the blog. Even so, from the sheer volume, detail and differing styles of the messages, the number is clearly many more than a handful. The language, often studded with obscure acronyms, suggests that the authors have a deep knowledge of the laboratory's exotic culture...

The blog's creator is Doug Roberts, a computer scientist who is a 20-year laboratory veteran. In an interview, Mr. Roberts said he was inspired to start the blog when he and his colleagues had their critical submissions to a forum on the laboratory's online newspaper rejected... "People were feeling like they were in a pressure cooker," he said in an interview. "Nanos is so abusive, not just to the general staff but his underlings. People were afraid to say anything. On the blog they could vent without fear of reprisal." Jeff Jarvis, who publishes BuzzMachine, a blog that focuses on media issues, said the Los Alamos site showed "a new ethic of transparency" that has come with the explosion of electronic self-publishing. "It's not just the power of the blog," Mr. Jarvis said, "it's the power of the citizen."
cheers!
posted by kliuless at 1:33 PM on May 1, 2005


...Huh.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:17 PM on May 1, 2005


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