Simon Willison’s Weblog


The nature of blogging

15th June 2002

Meg Hourihan’s explanation of blogging (which I linked to and praised earlier) is stirring up something of a storm. Meg’s suggestion that the key to blogging is the format has been ripped to pieces by the likes of BurningBird, Jonathan Delacour and Stavros. Jonathan uses photography as an analogy—some photographers are excellent technically and concentrate on taking the perfect photograph while losing sight of the art of the medium. I hope I’m not overquoting, but Jonathan clinched his argument for me with the following:

Which is not to say there’s no place for an explanation of the mechanics of weblogging: tools, posts, links, time-stamps, permalinks... But wouldn’t it be better to leave those prosaic details for later? And to start by mapping out an imaginative vision of the medium’s potential?

To focus attention on the magic and mystery of blogging. To acknowledge (paraphrasing Burningbird) that the key to weblogging is people, not a format. To admit that -five years on- we’re only just starting to realize what might be possible. To stress the communal nature of the activity. To celebrate the amplification of meaning that occurs when smart, creative people collaborate. To invite newcomers to join a grand adventure, a networked version of Hesse’s Journey to the East.

As a new blogger I am still trying to come to terms with the format and how it works. I think this is why I was initialy so impressed with what Meg had to say—she described blogging in technical terms that made sense to the logical part of my mind. My opinion has been reversed thanks to the interlinked nature of the blogging community, which lead me to opposing viewpoints and helped dramatically improve my understanding of what it is to blog.

I notice Jonathan, BurningBird and Stavros are all on the faculty of AKMA’s University of Blogaria. I wonder if they are accepting undergraduates.

This is The nature of blogging by Simon Willison, posted on 15th June 2002.

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