Thursday, June 02, 2005

Blog Definition & Future of Blogs--Part One

the first batch of responses to my micro-survey Posted by Hello

I surveyed a list of top bloggers and asked them to tell me their definition of the word "blog", and what they think is the future of blogs.

I conducted this survey due to the controversy over what makes a blog different from a conventional web site, why some consider blogs to be "revolutionary", and in what configurations, and for what purposes, blogs seem to be evolving.

While I sent the email micro-survey out only about a day ago, the answers I've received already are quite interesting.

Earlier I wrote that I'd compile 20 or 30 responses to my email micro-survey and publish them in a post. But that could be a bit unwieldy, hard to assimilate, informationally burdensome.

So I've decided to go ahead and present the first batch of responses in this post.

But first, let me begin with a few definitions of "blog" that I discovered prior to conducting this survey. I'll call these definitions "pre-existing".

Pre-existing Definitions of "Blog"

A blog is...

[A] "a clever combination of database and web site that lets you focus on writing, while a computer program...dates and archives your entries, and then automatically generates a web site that not only contains what you've written that day, but also contains links to all your previous posts."

Elizabeth Castro
Publishing a Blog with Blogger
(Peachpit Press, Berkeley, 2005, page vii)

[B] "[a web] site consisting of dated entries."

Brigitte Eaton
as cited by Rebecca Blood
"Weblogs: a History and Perspective"
(third paragraph)

[C] "A personal website that provides updated headlines and news articles of other sites that are of interest to the user, also may include journal entries, commentaries, and recommendations compiled by the user."

Biz Stone
Who Let the Blogs Out?
(St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 2004, page 228)

[D] "...a super-distributed community where--much like newspaper columnists--there are ongoing and involved discussions and conversations happening not on one site--but distributed across many hundreds of thousands of sites, each one radically personalized--a representation of its creator in cyberspace."

Tom Coates
"On super-distributed and super-localized online communities"
as quoted in "Three things I wrote ages ago on weblogs, publishing, and community..." February 15, 2005

Now let's see what my surveyed bloggers and I have to say.

Email Micro-Survey Responses

Jorn Barger(Robot Wisdom)

[Jorn Barger's blog Robot Wisdom was started in December 1997. It's considered one of the earliest blogs to exist, created in the same year as Dave Winer's Scripting News and Rob Malda's Slashdot. Jorn is also credited as being the first to use the word "weblog".]

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

Ideally, a blog is the work of a single editor, who gives a personal recommendation of linked resources, in reverse chronological order.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

Everybody will have one, their boundaries will become less distinct as browsers allow customized views, [and] the lagtime between a new resource being offered, and everyone who's interested finding it, will continue to shrink.

Debbie Weil (BlogWrite for CEOs)

[NOTE: Debbie is currently working on a new book about corporate blogging for a major U.S. publisher, to be revealed soon!]

[EDIT/UPDATE: Debbie's book is to be published by Penguin. I like them. Here's an advert for her, she is such an aggressive promoter, she makes even me look like a loser wimp in comparison. LOL]:


Current issue of her newsletter:
Subscribe free at:

"Beginner's Guide to Business Blogging" by Debbie Weil
Downloaded over 13,760 times from Seth Godin's!

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

A blog is a new way to communicate with your customers.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

The future of blogging is tied to the evolving anytime/anywhere relationship we have to the the Web and to being online.

Dean Esmay (Dean's World)

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

I confess I am increasingly having a hard time defining blogs. You know them when you see them. They tend to amplify both logical and emotional thinking.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

A continued blurring of the lines between traditional media and the new media.

Paul Woodhouse (Tinbasher, Codeye)

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

An online word processing tool with a series of idiosyncratic bells and whistles to allow you to say anything about everything to anyone whilst giving them the right to reply.

(2.) What is the future of blogging?

The idiosyncracies such as permalinks, hyperlinks, tags, comments, and rss will become the norm across websites. We'll see even more blurring of what we understand to be static and dynamic sites. The world is crying out for a CMS/blogging platform that is both powerful and a doddle to use.

Amanda Marcotte (Mouse Words, Pandagon)

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

I'm sticking to the open-ended definition. A blog is an online journal made possible by simple updating software. It's a self-publishing mechanism that reminds me quite a bit of the 'zine revolution. However, blogs have more potential because they are easier to create and easier to access.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

The future of blogs is that the various styles of blogging will calcify after a few years of the free-for-all. Bloggers with similar styles will join forces, even merging blogs, like I did with Jesse at Pandagon. We will all reminisce about the good old days when it was more chaotic and more fun, but the new era of blogging will have a lot more influence on public opinion.

Julia Hayden aka Sgt. Mom (The Daily Brief)

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

An on-line journal, frequently updated, of essays, comments, and links.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

Some will go on very much as they have, but some of the more current-events blogs will move even more into being news and commentary providers.

Steven Streight (Vaspers the Grate, Blog Core Values, Radical Corporate Art)

(1.) What is my definition of a "blog"?

A blog is a participatory web communication, collaboration, and community-building platform.

It enables indiviuduals without HTML skills to write, edit, publish, and archive online text, audio, video, art, photos, advertisements, and other digitized material, via special blog publishing software.

The material is formated as email-like posts, displayed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post appearing at the top of the main (index) page.

A blog usually includes a title, author profile, tagline (descriptive text), a blogroll sidebar list of similar or recommended blog links, and a variety of user-interaction functions.

These responsivity functions may include comment posting forms, syndication feeds, email update notification subscription forms, trackbacks, and permalinks.

A blog typically differs from a conventional web site by being more dynamic (more frequently updated with fresh and timely content), more interactive (via user-generated comments), and more intimately personal (via conversational tone and posing of questions to readers to stimulate response).

A blog represents the democratization of free web content publishing and the ascension of the individual voice to a level that is equal to that which is inhabited by powerful organizations.

In a blog comment box, there are no hierarchies or special privileges. One comment is just a valid as another, with the exception of abusive, off topic, or spam comments.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

Blogs will evolve by merging with web sites, wikis, embedded environment sensors, glogs (cyborg-log psycho-geographic assistive systems), and other, yet to be developed physical world intrusion/transformation devices, so that bloggers will not only express themselves via text, sound, and images, but will also manipulate objects and processes in the external, non-virtual realm.

Transformative Bloggers will look back at Expressive Bloggers as being primarily a transition from passive isolation, to universal communication and interaction, to eventual specialized remote interventions via earthly hyperspheric networks and extra-terrestial sporadic connectivity networks.

your feedback makes the blogosphere go round Posted by Hello

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


steven edward streight said...

My nice ally Amanda Marcotte emailed me this interesting observation, first she makes reference to another post here "14 Phases in a Typical Blogger's Life", then, well read on:

[QUOTE by Amanda Marcotte]:

I like the blog life cycle thing.

I don’t have much else to say on the subject

[STREIGHT: I asked her to clarify "group blogging" the "merged blog idea"]

except that the rise of “star” blogging, while it has an impact on public opinion that might be very positive, will probably discourage new people from getting into it.

At least into opinion blogging.


STREIGHT: You make an interesting observation that I've never heard anyone ever say. But that's how you operate, dear Amanda. LOL

"Star" blogging as negative impact on grass roots common people blogging. Hmmm.

So much, then, for that dumb Huggington Post Celebrity Blog joke.


steven edward streight said...

CORRECTION: I meant "Huffington". Ariana Huffington. Ugh.

Ed Deevy said...

Steven, great information for someone relatively new to blogging like myself. The survey data provides a good picture of where blogging is going.

steven edward streight said...

Dr. Deevy:

...and we need experts such as yourself to guide us into how blogs fit in with workplace issues.

What a revolution in labor-management relations. Now the worker has a voice, not just within their own sphere of life, but also sometimes as semi-official rep of company.

Like Tom Peters, Drucker, Seth Godin, others have said or implied: now everyone, from CEO to mail room clerk and janitor, is a Marketing and PR rep...via blogs.

And you and I are on the bleeding edge, we are the Phase 4 Pioneers of Blogging.

(1.) blogs as link logs, with sparse personal commentary

(2.) blogs as webzines and digital diaries

(3.) blogs as marketing and PR tools

(4.) blogs as business and philosophical platforms for communication, collaborations, and connectivity

Phase 5 is probably....

(5.) blogs as vehicles of personal and social transformation, and real world intrusion/manipulation.

With Blog Wars of 2005 in there between phase 4 and 5...the attack on the blogosphere by tyrants, con artists, sleazebags, and bigots.