Journo blogger and academic Paul Bradshaw asks if we can define blogging without referring to technology. That’s a good idea – for us, technology is only the tool, not the product. But what Paul offers as an alternative lacks, and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying so, a certain something.
“Blogging, above all else, is conversational. It is social. It is networked. There are two key features to the blog: links, and comments. Fail to include either, and you’re talking to yourself.”
I agree with Paul that blogging is social. But, by failing to include links and comments, are we really “talking to yourself”?
Nah. This seems a very technocratic definition. After all, journalist Paul Carr’s blog is undoubtedly a blog, but has no comments (for reasons he explained here). Marketing guru and author Seth Godin only does trackbacks, not comments, on his very popular (and influential) blog for reasons he explained here. One of the fathers of blogging, Dave Winer, hasn’t had didn’t have comments on his main blog for years. Winer, an often hectoring voice online, was left open to accusations of not taking what he dished out. [Update: as pointed out in a comment here, Dave does now have comments. Mea culpa.]
So what’s missing?
I’ve long said, without really explaining myself, that often blogging is, really, the first form of journalism born of the web. Blogging has changed both the way we think about creating a piece of digital journalism, and the way that piece of work is digested after we’ve clicked “publish”.
It’s probably time to explain myself.
You see, when we decide to use facts to describe or discuss an event, issue or idea, it’s reasonable to say we’re producing journalism. And I’d contend that bloggers often do just this. And I’d further contend that the best bloggers are going into this with their eyes open; they have a keen awareness of at least four factors (I’m sure you can think of more) which make their kind of work different from, say, print journalism, or broadcast, or anything else.
Let’s take a quick look at the four factors, and how they change the end product.