Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 6, 201112:43 PM

What Is A Blog? The Question That Won't Go Away

By the way the conversation flowed at this year's BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Los Angeles, you would think that Blogging was brand new.

Rick Calvert (the CEO and co-founder of BlogWorld and New Media Expo) invited me down to moderate a panel called, Building A New Media Empire> The panel also featured Deanna Brown (CEO of Federated Media), Lisa Stone (co-founder of BlogHer) and Michael Stelzner (found of Social Media Examiner). It was yesterday morning's keynote (which was also the last day of this three-day long conference) that brought out a ton of in-person discourse on Blogs, Blogging, Social Media and the future of media. In all of that, it seemed like everyone (including yours truly) grapples and struggles with the definition of a "Blog." In more than a few sessions, speakers and participants would ask questions like, "is The Huffington Post a Blog?" or "is TechCrunch a Blog?"

What is a Blog?

While some may call me a traditionalist, I think there are certain aspects of online publishing that does identify something as a Blog, and they include:

  • RSS feed.
  • Comments.
  • Journal like publishing design - meaning the content runs chronologically from newest to oldest.
  • Trackbacks.
  • Permalinks.
  • Archive by date.
  • A semblance of opinion and character in the content.

Do you need to have all of them?

Absolutely not. The real challenge is that many news websites reside on a Blogging platform and this causes some confusion. We also see many more corporations building websites on WordPress platforms because the content management system is just that much easier. Yes, it's increasingly difficult to say, "this is a website, but this is a Blog," and perhaps we are closely getting to that moment in time when it becomes identifiable simply by, "knowing it when you see it." As Blogging became more pervasive (back in the early 2000s) and then audio Podcasting (followed shortly thereafter by video podcasting), I made the argument to simply call it all "publishing" (actually my original term was, "instant publishing"). At the end of the day, Blogging is a publishing platform. It allows anybody to have a thought, and to share that thought in text, images, audio and video, instantly and for free for the world to see.

Instant publishing.

Is Twitter a Blog (some call in micro-blogging)? Is flickr a Blog (you can post pictures, comment on them, archive them date, etc...)? Is tumblr a Blog (some would argue that tumblr is a Blog mixed with more social layers)? Michael from Social Media Examiner agrees. He prefers to call himself a publisher over a Blogger. I'm quick to agree that whether it's the business book, Six Pixels of Separation, the Blog or the Podcast, it is just publishing, but I still prefer to say that I'm a Blogger and Podcaster (especially over titles like, "journalist" and "writer"). For some reason, those words resonate with me. They make me feel like I don't have to hold myself to the standards of a traditional media (and if you're asking, yes I do write differently when it's for this Blog or when it's for a newspaper). The content that I publish here - by the sheer fact that it's a called a Blog or a Podcast - gives me the right to experiment more text and audio. To be more irreverent and to test the waters of text and audio.

Blogging still feels more punk to me... and I like it that way just fine, thank you very much.

(No, this is not a new thought. More riffing on this from 2006: A Blog Is Like Lemmy From Motorhead).

By Mitch Joel