Saturday, March 4, 2006

Rules about what goes in a blog?

First a disclaimer: blogs can no doubt be whatever you want them to be.
Now a recant: my disclaimer is actually my point.

From time to time I've wanted to create a communication channel at my work that would let me dig in and chew on a topic, or invite a guest writer to do so, but in a more colloquial way than in a paper or presentation or "standard" corporate sort of piece.  Something like a blog. Text. Long or short as it needs to be to make and defend a point. Relatively unedited - certainly no magazine-editorial-staff, but really edited only as much as the writer needs to self-edit for his own comfort.

But whenever I've tried to do this (and it has been 3 or 4 times over the past year or so), I get these blank looks.  I keep hearing "But, a blog is a diary, not a magazine."  The latest expression of this is within an email newsletter I read from time to time. Amy Wohl said [ed: not available online any more]:
I’d also be breaking a blog rule.  Sometimes I write at some length and blog pieces are usually pretty short.  I could write a summary paragraph up front when I’m going to do that.  That would break yet another rule – or maybe invent something new.
*sigh*

So, sticking my head in the lion's jaws: this diary notion ...does it make any sense at all?

No.

A diary is something I write for myself, not for others.  When I write for myself, I write in my own shorthand, something that will remind me of a state of mind or a thought process I'm going through.  I skip steps. Skip letters. Hell, skip whole words or even sentences. I flit around from point to point. I jot in the margin in a stream-of-conciousness sort of way.  And this works because I know sorta how my brain parses information.

And even more, all my diary need do is remind me - it doesn't need to convince me, or even explain to me.
I joke about my handwriting: it is so bad that even I can't read it, but that is ok because as soon as I see it I can remember what I wrote. Those who know me or my handwriting personally will probably agree.

Can I do the same thing in a blog? I don't think so. Even if I accept the 'short quip' sort of blog style that many bloggers use, what I would write *for myself* in such a quip is rather different than what I would write for others. What others would get from what I write for myself is an odd thing to think about.

So I think 'diary' is pretty nonsensical.

Some use blogs fire off more rapid notes. And that is ok.  Though personally I see the mini-postings descend into a sort of glorified bookmarks page, comprised of links and no especialy added value. It winds up looking like little blocks, each comprised of a phrase or sentence or two, and a link. Not always, but surely a good deal of the time. 

Frankly, that sort of thing isn't really blogging for me because it doesn't contain any or enough of *me* - that's the one bit of the 'diary' concept that works for me, that my blog reflects me, not others. My thoughts. Not just semi-mechanical mention of things found at the roadside.

And for me, at least, reflecting me means that it is a mini-article, or mini-essay, and that is states a problem, describes a thought, appears at least sometimes thoughtful and hopefully from time to time is a little thought-provoking.

I don't know. It seems to me that a blog is a tool, not a product. The tool is about lightweight publishing process, not about the shape of the finished product. You can use it for a diary if you really want, and you can use it for glorified bookmarks too. Or you can use it to advance a discourse or promote a point of view. And it is about the feed, not what is fed.

But the point is that you just do it.


[Comments from my previous blog]


1. Knowledge Process Outsourcing left...
Monday, 22 February 2010 12:35 am :: http://www.kpo.com/
Thanks for sharing this very inspiring post. Even if you don't think so, I think it is relevant for a blogger to be able to express herself to his ideas.


2. glen martin left...
Saturday, 24 April 2010 6:25 am :: http://blog.glen-martin.com/
I think that was my point ... a blog is about expressing ideas to others. Key words here being 'expressing' and 'others'.

Link blogs don't fit for me because they don't express your ideas, they're just bookmarks.
Saying blogs are like a diary doesn't fit for me because diaries aren't for others, they are for yourself. And then having said it is a diary, one can make up all sorts of rules about what belongs in a blog, as to how diary-like that would seem.

No, my whole point is that a blog isn't like a diary at all, it is really a tool for self-publishing, and there are as many kinds of content as there are bloggers.

And that's ok. Just do it.

Thanks for reading.

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