What, exactly, is a Blog?

My thanks to the Maccwriters members who came to my session Thursday afternoon, the subject being, appropriately, blogging. It’s a form of writing after all.

Very impressed as ever with everyone’s blog ideas on varying subjects, always very entertaining.

I was pulled up short right at the start by our own Ernest by the question ‘what is a blog?’ I realised then, that what we know can’t always easily be defined, especially when it’s changed over the years.

Here’s the dictionary definition:  A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

 (to) blog: add new material to or regularly update a blog. “it’s about a week since I last blogged”

Wikipedia  gives a comprehensive rundown on the subject – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

I’m not an expert on blogging (only just started really) but in planning to run this session, I found out some interesting facts. Blogs, back in the 90s, were once humble journals or diaries, but it steadily caught on that the personal style of the blog held people’s attention and loyalty more than the more impersonal voice of the website.

During my search, I was both horrified and encouraged by what I found. Blogs are, it has to be admitted, often run by narcissists, psychos, airheads, obsessives or just downright nutters, but there were some that did make me think yes, blogging has an important and contributory role to improve our lives. At the least, they’re fun, sometimes thought-provoking.

I liked the idea of Narratively which features real life untold stories and journeys. There is however an invasive feature, every time you go to a new screen it goes to a dialogue box prompting you to sign up via email (you have to click on the outer background to get rid of it), but even so, the stories are wonderful eye openers. These are often worlds apart from any we know.  We are looking through another’s eyes on Narratively, and will end up with a wider perspective because of it, I think. http://narrative.ly/

In the same vein, I found Waiter Rant also an interesting view, this time it’s solely through the eyes of a native New Yorker. This is a more traditional, recognisable blog, and true, the language can be a bit ripe, but the storytelling is just as compelling. http://waiterrant.net/

Bald Hiker also has some wonderful descriptions of places and has an impressive graphic appearance. This started as a one man blog by walker Paul Steele, but others have since joined him and the result is polished. It’s a great collaboration. http://www.baldhiker.com/

The Oatmeal is a quirky blog, http://theoatmeal.com/blog/google_self_driving_car. It doesn’t take itself or anything else seriously. Occasionally it makes terrible mistakes – the ‘Exploding Kittens’ is definitely one of those (people should really think these things through), but on the whole, its comic creativity is usually entertaining.

My last choice was Treehugger, http://www.treehugger.com/ but, then I was faced with a question – is it a blog?. And what’s with all the hard sell? This appears to be another ‘Us’ collaboration as opposed to the lone blogger, it’s professional and manages to keep to its ethics. The minus point with these kind of group sites is – are they losing the ‘my view’ perspective that blogs are meant to have? You can see who the ‘core team’ are, but do they actually write it? – possibly not. The Treehugger blog is owned by MNN Holdings if you look at the small print, so it’s a business aimed at making money, and the blog is attached to a website, not sure which one came first.

http://www.blogmarketingacademy.com/blog-business/ – was interesting. This explains the limits of blogging and there may be a reason for these. Blogs were never meant to make money. That was never the point. Bloggers are that solitary voice in the wilderness of the worldwide web. Sane or otherwise, it’s a one-on-one experience with a blog. You are not alone, though sometimes, you may wish you were.

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