March 12, 2005 22:41 | WebBlogging

Why "blogging" sucks

The National Debate: Why "Blogging" Sucks

So-called "bloggers" are just "writers". I am a writer. You might think I am a bad writer, or even a terrible writer. My wife thinks I am a good writer but she may not be entirely objective. Sometimes when I write I use simplified content-management software often referred to as "blogware". I wrote a draft of this post on a legal pad. I am now typing my draft into Microsoft Word to edit my post and spell-check it. Later I will copy and paste the text into Movable Type and publish it on my web site, During this process am I also a "paperer"? or a "Worder"? If I print my Word document and fax it to Timbuktu am I a "faxer". Why then, when my writing appears on my web site, am I a "blogger". Since when does the tool I use to express my thoughts define me? To quote the always articulate Oliver Willis, "that's stupid".

Bravo. Time to wake up and get on with it.


I think I disagree. Whether we call it blogging or not, blogging is different than just "writing". We're having conversations. The way we think about our audience is different than any medium in the past. To just call what we do "writing" is wrong. We are "having highly networked, asynchronous communications in a heavily hyperlinked manner where the audience is expected to give feedback and participate in a conversation that spans tranditional boundaries. These conversations are archived and available in the future for reference." or something like that. This, you cannot do with just a fax machine or paper and pen.

Joi, yes you can. "Blogging" just accelerates it all, and by accelerating it, combines various elements of the process. Remember, "the effects of electricity"... DdeK...

The author of the above article states this as follows:

"Blogs are distinctly powerful because they are content, marketing and distribution all rolled into one."

I'm not trying to belittle "blogging" or harp on the name. I couldn't care less about the word. A blog is a blog is a blog. I just feel many of us have gotten just a tad too excited. Yeah it's great, yeah the effects are very interesting and can be used for great good... Just, let's not lose sight of the fact that all it's about is accelerated asynchronous communication (which by the way has nothing to do with weblogging proper. ;)


Conversations? What do you call a conversation? Most of the people having weblogs are preachers on a hill. They like to be heard, they like the public. It's not about conversations.

And I'm sorry, but my conversations are a lot more effective with a pen/letter (or an email) when I can write to someone I know I can debate of a deep topic.

A conversation and a public debate are not the same beast.

It seems like you discover the world of associations and organizations. This kind of things is going on for years (oops centuries), and yes with archived discussions, reports, etc. The only thing which changes is that it's available on the net with a wider audience. It doesn't change anything to the principles. It's a question of scale.

Some people will never try what I'm just doing, contradict you. Some people will never do that. Why? Because they respect your voice (because of many social things). It's not a conversation, they listen to you, most of them. Go down the hill. I'm not saying that in a bad way, but having a conversation is about sharing both ways. It's about the contact, not the distance, it's about mutual growth.

My five years of working at W3C (multicultural environment) and 3 years working in university (teachers, students, admins) have showed me one thing, it's always the same persons who talk (like I do right now), it's always the same persons who have the guts to stand up, but if you really want to share, you have to go private; you have to take time with the silent ones, to invite them slowly, with patience, because they will not talk by themselves, because they are impressed, because they are shy, because they don't think their opinions are valuable, etc.

A conversation is not about opening a mike, it's about making an effort to share discussion, it's about going to the people.

I have read so much dumb things said in name of weblogs.

Well, I think we're having a conversation right now on Boris's blog. I think that saying it's "just faster" or "more scale" is also in a way, missing the point. Scale and speed changes the inherent nature of things.

Karl, I agree. You can call it something other than a conversation, but it is much more of a conversation than watching TV, yet more public than private email. I think blogs have a very unique impact on what is going on and worthy of talking about as if it were something with different characteristics.

I agree that there are a lot of dumb things said in the name of weblogs, but I would also caution erroring to extreme on the other side and say that it's just like writing on paper and fax. I know the author of the post that Boris quites goes into more depth. That's why I didn't respond there. It wasn't a simple point he was making... but the point that Boris quoted in this post is something that I hear a lot and I still don't agree.

Karl, I'm not saying that blogs are best for all types of communication. I think, however, that they are a unique form worth talking about.

Weblog is like using a car. It helps us to achieve a task. I'm sure many people have done tremendous thing by using a car and they still do. It's not the only way.

What I see with the micro-bubble of Weblogs is that a bunch of people all talking alone, sometimes together in a cavern looking at their shadows on the cavern walls.

For example, I hear the exact same claims of revolutionizing human relationships when people were using Usenet, just 15 years ago. Check out this next sentence:

"I love to read what people are writing, I love to write, I love to meet people."

To achieve all of that, I don't need a Weblog, but weblogs are one of the tool to do it. It's a tool, just a tool. When you travel, and you discover many places, do you define yourself as a car driver? as a plane rider? No, you will define yourself as a traveller or a busy businessman. And you will agree that cars and planes have tremendously change the world.

Is there a specific organization of journalists who work with a car? or plane?

Weblog? Wiki-Weblogs? Usenet? Phones? Fax? or the new next ComLoveYouAll… there are all just tools. It's missing the point of human communications and medium. As I was saying in private to Boris, I think you are one of the rare who knows how to listen. There's a notion of developing an intimacy between two persons when there is a conversation. Something which goes further than exchanging messages, information.

That said, the most interesting _conversations_, I had with you, were… offline, face to face.

Gentlemen... this is not a conversation we can have via weblog comments... Nothing will get resolved this way. Hopefully we can all sit together at a table sometime soon, or barring that have a nice IM chat about it. :)

Meanwhile, I am FAR more interested in what can we do about China?


I am not trying to defend every stupid comment made in the name of blogs. I'm just arguing that there is a point to talking about "blogging" because there are some attributes that are unique to blogging that make the experience different. As you say Karl, maybe at a very high level things aren't that different, but at a practical level, I think blogging changes a lot of things. Who participate, how and what they can achieve.

I will agree with you that nothing beats face to face and I don't think blogging really replaces anything, but that it augments things.

I think that for SOME people, blogs are a tool that will change their life like no other and for them, identifying themselves with the tool is not a bad thing. Maybe this gap has something to do with the fact that Japanese believe all tools have spirits and are alive. ;-)

/me is looking in the room around me for ghosts ;)

It just seems like the author doesn't like the words "log" and "borg" because they sound too geeky. It's like a person who writes notes on staff paper not liking the word musician because it sounds too French or Latin. Besides, the blog is the end result of the writing so you become a blogger, which rules out "Worder", "paperer", and "faxer."

Or maybe he just doesn't like the ambiguity of the term, but "writer" is just as ambiguous. I think he just wrote too much in that entry.

The er suffix harkens back to the germanic roots of the English Language, where if one brews beer (bier brouwen) one is a beer brewer (brauwer), a perfectly fine English word.

I am not debating that blogger is an ugly word, but when you use word, you are a word processer, and you are a faxer when faxing, as fax is the machine, which is also a made up word, like xmas or blog, as facsimile is spelled with a c, and one using a fax is a faxer.

Blogging is much less interactive than most understand; for every trendy pop-culture blog that gets lots of stupid comments, there are thousands of thoughtful, insightful blogs that go uncommented, unlauded, unappreciated. Due to both the vagaries of the audience and the internet itself, brilliant, insightful writing from bonafide experts routinely gets buried under the vast mountains of information barraging us the moment we go on the internet. This, in itself, has led to general rule which some try to follow: "lots of short posts." Because a blog can't stand on the merits of a close reading and a period of reflection, like a magazine article or the first chapter of a novel. It becomes a medium where people compete to grab your attention in the 30 seconds or less that they spend on the front page of your blog. Worse yet, it is seen as primarily a capitalistic venture by many bloggers,who dream of running a NIKE banner at the top of their page, some day. So along come the giveaways, sort of like the prize in a cereal box, which brings people in by the droves, the deliberate tailoring of the structure and design towards a monetized, eclectic pop-culture magazine.

Let's face, Boing Boing is Reader's Digest, in cyber form. And it outranks, by many orders of magnitude, thousands other blogs which are vastly more "worthy," from both a literary and sociological point of view.

Stated more simply: Like all mass-media, blogging is tending towards the lowest common denominator. This is a phenomenon on the internet as far as "social networking" goes, if you have noticed.