Wait – what’s a blog again?

On: May 18, 2007
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About Pepijn Uitterhoeve
I'm Pepijn, a veteran Utopia player (and gamer in general). I intend to write my master thesis on Utopia, and focus mainly on the cooperative aspects. Some more stuff about me may be found here: http://peppie.wordpress.com/about/


In an ongoing discussion on a forum I got into a scuffle with a formidable opponent about what blogs exactly are. I tried parroting all that I had been taught in various classes during the BA and MA courses in New Media; basically that weblogs are a form (as argued by Albert Benschop in class at one point) and not a function. I agreed with wikipedia’s initial definition that, whatever blogs are, they must have this fundamental characteristic:A formidable opponent! And it's not me or Colbert!

“A blog (short for web log) is a website where entries are made and displayed in a reverse chronological order”

In a rebuttal, my adversary made points about the necessity for blogs to be written in an explicitly personal manner, and that the more people collaborate on a blog, the less “bloggy” it becomes and the more it starts to be a part of some generic “online media”. I tried to refute these points by listing blogs that are not overly personal (Engadget), blogs that have a legion of contributers (Huffington Post) and academic blogs (such as ours, or Terra Nova) which can be both.

Instead of addressing these case by case, he fell back on authority; the assertion by the Reverend David Winer that all blogs require a personal voice in their posts, and the fact that if you define:blog on Google most of the definitions favour a single author writing opinionated pieces. He also added that if we simply stuck to the technical definition (as provided in the first line of the Wikipedia article) wikis, newsmedia archives and a host of other stuff online also qualify as weblogs. Now I’m not sure if I actually said that if there is a reverse chronological order, it therefore must be a weblog, but there does seem to be a powerful lobby out there that demand a personal touch in any reverse chronological ordered entries before these can be called part of a blog.

Please help me out here. Am I right? Is he right? Are we both right? Are we both wrong?

All of the above? None of the above?

Teachers, readers, fellow students: please lift this shroud of confusion.

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