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A New Meaning for the Word "Blog"

The term "blog" deserves a new meaning that transcends its recent historical origin. "Blog" comes from "weblog," and "log" comes from the Greek root "logos," meaning (among other things) "word," "thought," "reason," and "study." Of course "logos" is a source for innumerable words in the English language, such as "biology," "psychology," "dialogue," "logic," "logistics," etc. The Greek view of "logos" incorporates the idea that the "word" ("logos") is the embodiment of "thought" and "reason" ("logos"). The word "logos" also has spiritual significance for Christians, who believe that the divine Word ("logos") became flesh, i.e. that divinity entered into humanity.

If "log," in the word "blog," is seen as rooted in "logos," the "word," then one can ask if the "b" in "blog" could be given a more significant meaning (something beyond "short for web"). My own preference is that the "b" in "blog" be considered as the Greek letter "beta."

"Beta" has applicability from a scientific perspective. My own knowledge of math and the hard sciences is very limited. (I'm in law school, after all.) But at a simplistic level, "beta" can imply instantaneous penetration, i.e. beta radiation. So a "blog," meaning a "beta log(os)," could be defined as a "word," embodying "thought" and "reason," that "instantly penetrates." For the definition to make sense, "logos" would have to be plural, with a "blog" embodying numerous words that are instantly penetrating.

Any readers who are more scientifically minded can feel free to comment on whether this is a valid or worthwhile perspective. I honestly don't know whether my revised definition of "blog," using "beta" as the initial root, is supported or undermined by the physical properties of beta radiation and beta decay, or the utility of a beta function in mathematics, or similar uses of the word "beta" in the sciences. But clearly "instantly penetrating word" has much more impact and significance than "short for weblog." So I suggest we retroactively grant the word "blog" a new origination, connoting a more profound intrinsic meaning.

March 5, 2006 in Definitions | Permalink

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Comments

Speaking as an engineer:

Alas, your proposed revision suffers on several counts. Most important is that rewriting linguistic history for whatever reason has a corrosive effect on social interaction. I suggest Orwell's postlogue to *1984* on the subject of "Newspeak" if you aren't convinced.

From a philological perspective, the formation of "blog" from "web log" is a perfectly natural development of language. (This probably helps to explain its rapid adoption.) In that field I'm an amateur of long standing.

My advice is to let it be.

Not wishing to be merely negative, I offer the following:

In the computer world (where my status is only that of "user"), there's a stronger basis for your proposal:

When you first mentioned "beta," I assumed you were headed in the direction of "beta-test," the first exposure of a product to a select segment of the expected user population. There's an implication of "not ready for prime time" that could apply to amateur blogs. To be fair (*pace* the legacy media), there are many hundreds or even thousands of blogs that have a higher "reality correlation" than we see in newsprint.

Coming from the nuclear field (where I have earned my living for more than a quarter-century), I have to say that radiation is a poor metaphor: the asignment of names "alpha," "beta," and "gamma" to particular forms of radiation reflects the history of science more than any characteristic of the corresponding forms of radiation.

Beta particles are electrons ejected from the nucleus of an atom. They are much slower than the massless gamma particle, and they are not very penetrating (unlikely to be the analogy you want to make) because they have a high charge compared to their mass. This means that they interact strongly with matter and beta particles are "stopped" or "shielded" by something as thin as tin foil. Unless the radioisotope has been injested, beta radiation rarely does much damage.

(Taking the legacy media as the "alpha-log" is the most amusing extension of your proposal: an alpha particle is at once more massive, slower, and less penetrating than a beta particle. At the same time it is much more damaging (but only if taken in).


Posted by: Metamorph | Mar 6, 2006 9:47:01 AM

Metamorph,
Thanks very much for your helpful and informed comments.
I've read the Orwell Postlogue, and certainly do not want to be on the wrong side of that argument. I don't mean to suggest rewriting the history of the word "blog" in a malevolent way. I would just like to infuse the word with a more profound meaning.
Unfortunately it sounds like that intended meaning only goes so far. I'm grateful that you shared your scientific and engineering expertise. Perhaps if "beta" is compared to "alpha," and "alpha" represents the older and more traditional forms of media, as you suggested, then "beta" will work in this context. But it is not nearly as good an analogy as I had hoped.
Perhaps "gamma" is the more effective root-word since it implies greater penetration. Then we would be talking about "glogs," and of course that'll never catch on.
- 3L Epiphany

Posted by: 3L Epiphany | Mar 6, 2006 12:38:33 PM

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