Understanding Weblogs

I use this page primarily as a placeholder link for comments in other people’s Weblogs. The Weblog that I currently maintain is fawny.blog.

Understanding Weblogs

I write a few active Weblogs. In case you are new to the genre, Weblogs take two canonical forms:

A Weblogger surfs the Web and links to items of interest. One may provide a bare, unadorned link, a link plus an excerpt, or both of those plus one’s own pithy commentary.
diary or journal
One keeps a regular or irregular journal online.

It is quite possible to combine the forms: You can write about your life, which itself includes the Web-surfing you do.

My Weblogs

My Weblogs can be categorized as follows:

Currently-maintained Weblogs

Personal Weblog
My pop-up blog for fans of the Toronto Public Library. Likely to return in 2010

Discontinued Weblogs

Links-and-commentary blog on “online content and everything that entails.”
Discontinued in 2003. Archives resuscitated May 2006; moved to joeclark.org in August 2010
Links-and-commentary blog on accessible media
Discontinued in 2005.
Diaristic blog that covers the writing process of my book about Web accessibility, Building Accessible Websites.
Discontinued in 2004, but archives resuscitated in 2005
Links-and-commentary blog on Web accessibility.
Frozen in 2003. May be resuscitated if we can create a new database-driven format.
The Tea Makers
In July 2008, I took over this Weblog about the CBC.
Discontinued October 2009. Archives restored 2010

Further reading

If you’re new to the whole concept, Rebecca Blood’s “Weblogs: A History and Perspective” is definitive. Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker article “You’ve Got Blog,” which I later deconstructed, describes the cultural phenomenon. (An updated rewrite of that same deconstruction appears in a chapter in the book We’ve Got Blog.)

The most important thing

You cannot understand Weblogs without understanding the nature of the Web. Items posted to Web sites are meant to be read. There are clear exceptions – company intranets, password-protected sites, subscriber-only areas – but the entire point of publishing online is to allow others to read and experience your work.

The Weblog format engages a quasi-dialogue in which the logger posts a link to and likely comments on a public Web posting elsewhere. The source can and very often does counterblog in return, and indeed it is possible for a handful of Weblogs to do nothing but react to and write to each other in public for days on end.

If you need an old-media example, think of newspaper columnists and letters-to-the-editor. But really, Weblogs constitute a new discursive form altogether, one of talking at.

Openness of this sort unnerves people; we’ve been brainwashed for generations to understand media as something rarefied and elitist. It is shocking to find that average people (even an actual journalistauthor like me) can publish their own work. When part of what they publish is commentary on what someone else published, suddenly the true meaning of “free press” comes into play. What kind of press did we really have before?

Consequently, the most important thing to understand about Weblogs is: If you don’t want to get blogged, don’t post.

See also: Resources for Webloggers.

Updated 2010.08.29 13:33

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