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Just What is a Blog, Anyway?

Here is an interesting article entitled, “Just what is a blog, anyway?”  It is from the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review, and was posted on Sept. 29, 2005. The article looks at blogging from a journalistic perspective, and traces the evolving definition of a “blog” in the context of developing technology.

Three excerpts:

[Jeff Jarvis:] “There is no need to define ‘blog.’ I doubt there ever was such a call to define ‘newspaper’ or ‘television’ or ‘radio’ or ‘book’ -- or, for that matter, ‘telephone’ or ‘instant messenger.’ A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list. People will use it however they wish. And it is way too soon in the invention of uses for this tool to limit it with a set definition. That’s why I resist even calling it a medium; it is a means of sharing information and also of interacting: It’s more about conversation than content ... so far. I think it is equally tiresome and useless to argue about whether blogs are journalism, for journalism is not limited by the tool or medium or person used in the act. Blogs are whatever they want to be. Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining ‘blog’ is a fool’s errand.”

“I look at it as a hybrid medium somewhere between broadcast and print,” [Eric] Zorn says. “It strives for the immediacy of broadcast, with the elegance and accessibility of print. It’s very difficult for print people to get their minds around the idea of something with high standards but not as high as print. It’s OK to put something up on the Web with a typo -- and that’s not nearly the disaster if you do in print because you can go back and change it. Blogs also allow closer to real-time information commentary. There’s a debate going on out there about whether it’s a new medium or the old medium repackaged. At some point, all forms of communication come from the same stump in the ground.”

“We’re transforming from the traditional newspaper with an online component to a more cooperative newsgathering partnership between professionals on our staff and members of our community,” says [Lex] Alexander. “Blogs are an important tool but part of a larger mission. ... I think in the big picture, when the framers of the Constitution put in freedom of the press, blogs was what they had in mind. They understood freedom of the press not so much as a literal press but as a means of communication. Freedom of speech is the freedom to convey ideas by other means. Blogs are an individualized mechanism to do that.”

February 20, 2006 in Definitions | Permalink


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