What is a Weblog? Why We Should Care

I just came home from a Jupiter seminar on weblogs. Specifically, their application to the business world. Like anything new and leading edge, the seminar was filled with "classic" or early adopter bloggers including Dave Winer, Doc Searls, and Dave Weinberger. Pictures (by Dan Bricklin) here.The purpose of the seminar was to get to the heart of how blogs can and are fitting into the world of business. How are they being commercialized? Should they be commercialized? Do they threaten mainstream media? And why do they matter in the first place? Many interesting and intriguing discussions surrounded these topics but none was more volatile and, dare I say, hostile, than one of the keynote speeches given by Tony Perkins, creator and founder of AlwaysOn and former editor in chief the now defunct Red Herring. Perkins claims AlwaysOn in a "super-blog" and described it as a "participatory journalism". He was the antithesis of the "classic" bloggers and represented the "commercialization" side of weblogs.

The usual argument ensued between those in the "classic" camp" and those in the "commercialization" camp. Perkins pleaded with the group for support in defining a blog but the group bit back claiming Perkins has already mis-represented what a blog is in interview with mainstream media. Here's the problem. The "blogoshere", which is the word used to refer to world of weblogs, has been around and has evolved into something fairly well defined. Some would debate that but among bloggers, there's a pretty good understanding of what a blog is. Adrants is a weblog if your were curious. "Classic" bloggers claimed the definition of a blog is being blurred by Perkins because he's not a blogger, he doesn't "get it", and he's describing his new endeavor as a blog when, by definition, it is not a blog.

Now, it's fine if he wants to go out and launch a company that is "based on" the tenets of a blog but to say that he has launched a "commercial" entity that is a blog is clearly wrong and may stunt the potential of weblogs as a business medium

Anytime an entrepreneur grabs onto something and takes it commercial, there are always going to be changes to the "purity" of the underlying platform used to take that entity to commercialism. There's a "dirtyness" to it. But that doesn't always have to be a bad thing. It just needs to be clearly defined for what it is. And Perkins definition of AlwaysOn is not correct. It's not a blog. It's BASED ON blog tenets but it's not a blog. Dave Weinberger states the problem quite well in a post to his blog from the conference:

Now we're fighting again over Tony's (Perkins) use/coopting of the word. The crowd is generally tired of the topic. I'm not, although this is no longer the right place to pursue it. For me, the issue is that we � the Blogosphere � have built something special, post by post, day by day. Tony is misappropriating our work for his own purposes. I have nothing against his purposes � I hope AlwaysOnline succeeds � but having him misuse and abuse the term "blog" makes it harder for us to explain what is special about the world we've built together. It harms the growth of blogging. IMO.

More from Jeff Jarvis.

by Steve Hall    Jun-10-03   Click to Comment   

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