What is a blog and why do so many people hate them?


If you check out Technically Philly and you follow every minute change, you may have noticed that the tagline that we boast at the site’s top has changed slightly.

Last week it still read: “Technically Philly is a blog covering the community of people who use technology in Philadelphia.” Now it says, “Technically Philly is a site that covers the community of people who use technology in Philadelphia.”

It may be a small change, but we realized we were lying.

Twelve years ago December in Ohio, they say, Jorn Barger took to calling his Robot Wisdom site a “web log,”  as his collection of links were, he said, literally logging the Web.

The type of Web site quickly took to house a variety of online diaries, often collecting news and commentary, too, but always flowing in some form of sequential order.

In 2004, with five million worldwide, the blog format was said to have hit the critical mass of being mainstream, bringing with it a new crew of news analysis and commentary, then largely from an outsider’s perspective.

Something happened then. While some even well-known blogs — like Deadspin, as Buzz Bissinger, Bob Costas and then-Editor Will Leitch made famous — maintained that the outsider’s perspective was crucial to the blog form, the world went silly with blogs.

Corporations, nonprofits, newspapers, magazines and every journalist, publicist and, um, social media guru on the planet got one, then two, three of eight blogs. Companies fed their news directly to the public. Decidedly insider reporters gave out extra insight.

The blog became a muddled form — far from simply logging the Web. It became known more for news and updates — making your blog that hasn’t been updated since October decidedly un-blog.

Last week, I made the case that there is a very real difference between a person who writes a blog and a blogger, one is not necessarily tied to the other.

I don’t think we at Technically Philly are bloggers, even by my own standards outlined in that post. While we often write with a heavy voice and our site (currently) runs in standard reverse-chronological order, our product is based on our developing increasing access and source contacts. What’s more, while we are beginning monetization it won’t come in advertising-only and it won’t be able to be our full-time income — though one of my fellow co-founders is a blogger by being full-time paid elsewhere as one.

So, the boys over at Technically Philly could be journalists writing a blog, and TP does meet a lot of those standards I discussed, like linking, voice, reader interaction and sequential order, there are two big differences: our pursuit of access and our editorial oversight, which we hope to do more of with an eventual redesign.

It is clearly blog-influenced, but then, I think, those are lessons more in the social media age. Blog or not, we are clearly students of the new media age, where dialogue trumps much else. The blog format will affect all sites, but I believe there is still variation.

I recognize there is a real difference between new and old media, despite the latter increasingly using the former, so I’ve urged other bloggers to respect their content creators. But in a link economy, all media will share content with others, so links will become more and more important. So important that I urge young journalists to give blogging a try, if only to get those social media lessons and be able to take them elsewhere on the Web, like linking and focusing an online product.

Mostly, there is something different about a “blog” to a “news site” to many.

A blog may sound newer, but I don’t believe they resound of accountability. That may continue to change in the future, but because we at TP are trying to develop a serious news product, it doesn’t seem like our product will be a blog, in the form it seems to be now.

I don’t believe one is better than the other, but I think as the format matures, it will be a conscious decision that will come with  a lot of connotation.

Any of that make sense?