Defying definition

Somebody just asked me to define blogs. I refused and said:

I don’t care. There is no need to define “blog.” I doubt there ever was such a call to define “newspaper” or “television” or “radio” or “book” — or, for that matter, “telephone” or “instant messenger.” A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list. People will use it however they wish. And it is way too soon in the invention of uses for this tool to limit it with a set definition. That’s why I resist even calling it a medium; it is a means of sharing information and also of interacting: It’s more about conversation than content… so far. I think it is equally tiresome and useless to argue about whether blogs are journalism, for journalism is not limited by the tool or medium or person used in the act. Blogs are whatever they want to be. Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining “blog” is a fool’s errand.

So there.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    That’s like asking someone to name their favorite movie. Comedy? Drama? Documentary? Adventure? Kids Movie? Weepie? Sci-Fi?

    Blogs can be, and are anything you want them to be. It would take a guy his entire life to read all the political blogs, and he would never get through them all because more come on line each day. Not to mention blogs focused on tech issues, TV show discussions, travel and kitties.

    Define blogs? Define life.

  • http://thinkmedia.blogs.com Annette

    If I may try, I’d define blogs as a subset under websites, parrallel to the likes of e-commerce sites and web portals.

    Lose definition: Websites created and owned by individuals for purpose of self-publishing, self-expression and communications.

    But of course, everything might change tomorrow!

  • Stella

    A wise friend of mine on LiveJournal said this, and I’ve kept this quote at the top of my LJ subsequently:

    “The blog is like no form ever invented before. It can be a diary, a column, a notice board, a one-person literary magazine, a one-person newspaper, a picture gallery, a practical joke.”

  • http://www.wealthjunkie.com Alex

    I got in the same argument with a friend. He said “you’re a blogger”, and I said– A weblog is just a type of software used to set up a web site. It can be about anything from trading stock tips to posting articles. It is just an easy to use CMS system for web sites.

  • http://www.geise.com/index.php/GD-Linksville/Items/ PXLated

    Ok Jeff, if you don’t want to define it, then when someone says executives should “blog”, what should they do? What should Mr. Dell do? Should he just create a website, oops, Dell already has one of those.

  • http://www.kenjimori.com Kenji Mori (Japanese)

    Thanks for the insightful.

    Isn’t it common for people (me, for one, sometimes) to define something unfamilier and make the topic totall boring?

  • http://public.2idi.com/=pheloxi pheloxi

    Jeff, you should go in politics, because you explain what you did not want explain!

    I am toddling off into thin air!

    “watch my fly!”

    thin air toddler

  • http://ripples.typepad.com/ripples David St Lawrence

    A blog is the ultimate power tool available to a single individual. It provides almost unlimited multiplication of effort.

    Through a weblog, a single individual can be connected to and can affect an almost unlimited number of other individuals.

    From a practical standpoint, your audience is limited only by the power of your intellect.

    Jeff’s blog is an excellent example of this

  • mm

    “your audience is limited only by the power of your intellect.
    Jeff’s blog is an excellent example of this”

    The limits of his intellect affecting the power of his blog? Indeed.

  • think about it

    Hmmm…Here’s how to define the blog called “Buzzmachine”: a blog that tries to appear “liberal” but in actuality is operated by the right wing so as to manage liberal discourse and keep it within narrow parameters, never cutting too close to the bone.

  • Truth Hurts

    Jeff isn’t part of the Right Wing only a mindless Thomas Friedman cult member. I’m not really sure which is worse!

  • http://www.razormagazine.com michael

    Warning: potential self-promotion ahead.

    Jeff, in short, thank you. Initially, I rued the growth of blogs as so much Bo Peabody (remember him?) homepages-r-us. But it really became clear when I tried to relaunch an entire publication’s online presence — you were warned! — atop Blogsmith, the engine behind Weblogs Inc. I have to say, it’s a grand experiment and we’re just now seeing the benefits.

    To your other points on customer service (I won’t say the D word), the blog platform, more than anything else, puts us in direct contact with our readership. I have to say that even the sometimes complaints evolve into pretty warm conversations in zero time.

    So, blogs are what you make of ‘em. Indeed.

  • http://www.magazine-ecommerce.com/ Magazine Ecommerce

    how about explaining explanation…

  • Adam

    Your statement that “Blogs are whatever we make them.”
    Brought me a good thought that a blog is just a channel, which connect people. And you can do anything you want with that channel.
    http://www.plagiarismdetect.com/