Rebecca Blood's essay on weblogs
September 8, 2000 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Rebecca Blood's essay on weblogs starts out with a history and explanation of the genre, but moves on to a discussion of how keeping a weblog can empower its author. I'm honestly surprised nobody else has already posted this link.
posted by harmful (9 comments total)
I am personally insulted, as solistrato should be, that our articles were not referenced.


I like that she has a lot of the same ideas as I do, such as the shift from a thought-out 'weblogging' to quick, easy, not as thought out updates, journal-style being the result of easier technology and lack of intentional self-management.

Although I would tend to disagree that the 'journal' weblog is some kind of new empowering phenomenon. Journals, diaries, personal narratives, dated entries, all existed before weblogs, and still exist today (although slap a date on any one of those and people assume it is a weblog; case in point - people call a weblog. It's a webzine.)

My problem with the weblog matches what Rebecca says caused the shift from logging the web to journal-style entries; the technology made it easy to do it that way, and people did not want to take the extra effort to find and post that link, to add more content, to fully formulate a thought. In many cases, some weblogs became a form of public e-mail correspondence.

I would also say that it is not being outnumbered which causes people to retreat back to their's and Sprite commercials, but that the shear mass and shocking similarity between the web of weblogs someone may stumble into may be a turning off factor.. or a turning on factor.

But in either case, it means isolation of the viewer.. if they stumble across one set of inter-linking weblogs, they may not find their way out to another group.. and if they do, how will they follow the daily lives of four groups of weblogs that comprise over 50 people? What about the other content of the web, outside of the soap opera of a web of people publically corresponding? Information glut happens.

I'm not trying to state any major positions here.. just opening up some talking points basedon what Rebecca had to say, of course.
posted by rich at 7:31 AM on September 8, 2000

For me, the "mass" and "similarity" factors that Rich addresses were a definite *ahem* "turn-on" (just trying to stick with the metaphor here).

When I came across the first weblog I ever saw, I was like "that's an interesting way to do a links list" . . . but then I began seeing the other ones that that one referenced, and I began to think "WHAT the HELL is going ON here?", and I stayed up all night reading weblogs, and before the week was out I'd started my own...

I should add a disclaimer here that I'd been involved (and am still involved) in the "zine" community, so I already had an independent-media framework set up that the weblog phenomenon fit into neatly and nicely. If I didn't have that already, maybe I would have retreated...
posted by jbushnell at 10:06 AM on September 8, 2000

if they stumble across one set of inter-linking weblogs, they may not find their way out to another group.. and if they do, how will they follow the daily lives of four groups of weblogs that comprise over 50 people?

I don't know how people manage to follow the daily lives of ONE group of weblogs. Every time I stumble into one of those inter-linking "blog" fests I walk away with a headache.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2000

I liked it, except for the usual overemphasis on Blogger, which I could have done without. The internet continues to shatter into a zillion razor sharp chunks of glass and no, you aren't likely to get more than a handful of readers. I'm still hammering away on my weblog, but I'm starting to get frustrated. Better to make a difference in the real world than in the virtual one. I know it's not a popular opinion, but the internet has almost no impact on the world at large.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 11:22 AM on September 8, 2000

"I liked it, except for the usual overemphasis on Blogger, which I could have done without."

my aim was to tell the story as accurately as I could based on my own observations. blogger has undeniably had a tremendous effect on the evolution of this genre, and arguably changed its course.

one of the points of my piece is that tools like blogger and pitas and the rest changed the playing ground: opened the space to anyone with a browser. that's significant, all by itself.

in a historical context, I think these tools changed the face of weblogs, as well. blogger perhaps more than others by its sheer popularity and pyra's level of organization (their directory and so forth).

posted by rebeccablood at 1:51 PM on September 8, 2000

I thought it was a very lucid essay. As much as the internet inspires literacy, blogging inspires the cultivation of personal opinion. The personal journals of the past are now networked and giving the authors real-time feedback to hone their views.

As far as your question about people getting stuck in information gluts Rich, that doesn't seem to be likely to occur voluntarily. I picture that the typical web experience is akin to a game of chess. The probability of someone going off on a link tangent grows exponentially over time. Any fear based backtracking to or the like sounds like a newbie retreating to the shallow side after drifting into deep and possibly shark infested waters.

It does strike a question of the average number of bookmarks regularly used by the ‘average’ web user. Or how the way people think of the web affect their use of it. Is it the panacea of human interaction to you? Is it just another tool? Is it scary threat to authority and erosion of publicly held morals? Does person’s treatment of their weblog reflect the way they view the web as a whole? I’m interested in what young kids think the web is or what it will be for them. How young is the youngest blogger? Or how old is the oldest? Which one uses more custom scripting?

I now have more questions then answers, but good articles provoke such things.

posted by john at 3:18 PM on September 8, 2000

To be honest the "you'll never get many readers" element of this whole thing brings on my usual despair related desire to vomit. I want everyone in the world who could possibly enjoy my blogs (which may not actually be that large a percentage of the population) to look at them and react in the way that I anticipated. I am, of course, prepared for the inevitiable disappointment when that doesn't happen but the fact that NOONE seems to be looking at them is just destroying me.
posted by davidgentle at 7:29 PM on September 8, 2000

Maybe the problem is making a blog for people to read, rather then making a blog with the blatantly narcissistic goal of it being something you want to visit yourself.

Or maybe Rebecca is right and people balk after seeing lists of blogs like Eaton's.

Or may your just ahead of your time. I used to be, but then I bought a better clock.

posted by john at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2000

Well, I have no idea who eaton is. I've never felt ahead of my time. And I'm sure people would read my blogs if they knew about them. I'm sure they'd be desparate to look at them every day to see what new hoop I was jumping through for their benefit
posted by davidgentle at 3:26 PM on September 9, 2000

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