Understanding blogs | Tracy Durnell

I am a big fan of categorisation debates, so the concept of trying to define what a "blog" is (or isn't) piqued my interest. I'm glad it did, because Tracy has written a wonderfully well-thought-through post with some interesting insights. For the most part, I think it aligns with my own gut feeling on what makes a blog a blog, but I particularly liked the style of a blog post. The fact that blogs take the form of a building argument, not necessarily voicing their intent or conclusion immediately, but instead guiding the reader through the narrative to naturally arrive at that conclusion. I agree wholeheartedly with this take, but I'm not sure that this is the essence of "blog-ness". I think that's just how people actually talk when given a platform.

It strikes me as the same style as newspaper opinion pieces, and very similar to the style that many cultures evolved for public speaking (the kind of public speaking where someone stands on a literal soapbox and espouses some ideal or idea). And I think that makes sense. Blogs tend to be personal spaces (or places attempting to make themselves appear personal, as with brand/business blogs) that give a person or persons a platform, but one which they want others to consider. A conversational tone is appealing at both ends of that transaction: it makes writing the post feel less like work, and it makes reading the post more natural and friendly. I dunno, I feel like there's something there, perhaps worth mulling over further 😊

On the reality that books and blogs are not merely the medium they inhabit:

Printing off a long blog and binding it together does not necessarily a book make; for one, books are weighted towards linear reading — start to finish — while blog posts do not have to be read in the order they were originally published.

On the irritation of graphic novels being crassly categorised in public library systems (and, indeed, bookstores):

I’m a fan of graphic novels, and consider them a different medium than prose books; it pisses me off that graphic novels and graphic non-fiction are shelved with the comic strips at my library under 741.5.

On the impact that the technology of the web has on how blogs work:

hypertextual capabilities encourage authors to supplement their text with links to their own work, forming networks of connected thought, and to references on other websites and online resources

On the nature of a blog and the impact it had/has on online culture:

As a self-published work, a blog reflects the author(s)’s or editor(s)’s premise unfiltered. This direct, decentralized form of publication democratizes writing and the sharing of ideas. As more people of all backgrounds participate in the blogosphere, the culture of blogging accepts less formal, more conversational writing styles.

On the difference with social media, and particularly why comments on social timelines tend to devolve whilst blogs at least have a chance of interesting discussion:

The immediacy of the feed encourages replies in the moment, while a blog post can be saved and mulled over for later engagement.

On Tracy's conclusion about what blogging is; I particularly like the emphasis on the "body of work":

And if you zoom out from the individual blog post level, in a sense this also describes what blogs are: a contemplation on a particular theme in depth (even if that theme is “the author’s life” or “stuff I like”). A blog is a body of work.

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