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The Blog Is Dead: Long Live the Blog

Image by @lox

How do you define what a “blog” is? Back in the day, a blog was a weblog—an online journal. This definition had connotations of timeliness, of narrative, and of a personal focus.

But these days, blogging has expanded. Bloggers may be hobbyists or corporate CEOs. Blogs may be personal or professional. Even the tools that bloggers consider decidedly blog-focused, like WordPress, are used increasingly on news and other content sites.

So what is a blog? Where are the boundaries around blogging? Do they even exist any more?

Blogging is about content and community

This may be true, but it’s also true for much of the web. To say bloggers are content creators is a bit irrelevant: journalists are content creators, and so is your next-door neighbor who uploaded a video of his cat to YouTube.

If we break the web into the categories functionality-based sites (like online banking and ecommerce stores) and content-based sites, we see that there’s often not a whole lot of difference between “blogs” and other sites in the content category.

Whether we’re blogging with words, videos, audio files or images, regular updates to a site—even one like microblog Twitter—are generally regarded as “blogging”.

There are a few delineations, though. Wikis can be updated frequently, but they’re usually updated by users of the wiki itself, and they’re most commonly used as references. That said, many blogs seek to act as references of points of authority on their topic, as do wikis. Wikis may also provide a narrative if they’re used to store progress information—details about the evolution of, or updates to, a project, for example, or meeting minutes. This also reflects one of the common goals of blogging.

Forums, which can also be considered within the content site category, tend to be more conversational, and less get-the-facts-to-you focused. And the information they communicate tends to be less time-relevant than that on blogs or news sites. However, they, too, share some similarities with blogs: they aim to create community, and individual threads generally have a sense of narrative — a forum thread usually tells the story of a discussion.

Blogging is about publishing

A blog is a regular publication, and it’s true that there isn’t a huge variety of site types in the “regular online publication” category. There are ezines and electronic newsletters, and there are news sites. Other than that, the only regular publication site type is probably the blog (if you have others, add them in the comments!).

What unites these communication types is that they present content from a position of authority. In the publishing model, the publisher is the  brand and the authority, and any authors they present have the backing of the publisher. They usually publish on a specific topic for a specific audience, and they do so regularly. Their publication is effectively a product, which sets these site types apart from information repositories like wikis, forums and work folios.

Blogging is about meeting a need for information

Again, meeting a need for information isn’t something that’s unique to blogging. Even sites that offer pure functionality, like Delicious or Google, can fit this description. Forums, wikis, classified sites, and news sites are all focused on meeting a need for information. So are many emails, newsletters, RSS feeds, and so on.

So what’s unique about blogging? What defines blogging from any other kind of online content creation? Is it that blogging is a unique combination of factors—content, community, temporally-relevant publishing—or is there something else at play? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. A blog have took on an life of its own the past 3 years, people are jumping on this band wagon and blogging about any and everything…its just awesome if you ask me..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  2. Zahid says:

    Nice post. I totally agree blogging is about audience and community. It over just publishing.

  3. I often like to think about blogs using that last point you’ve mentioned Darren: a blog is about meeting a need for information. It’s a very pragmatic way of thinking.

    I think that fundamentally, advertising your blog and meeting this need for information in a quality way is what gets readership to a blog. And both of these can be quite the challenge.

  4. Paurian says:

    Blogging is still primarily being used as a personal diary or Journal. People write to get things off their chest (soapboxing) or to log something they’ve learned and don’t want to forget. Blogging is an atmosphere that promotes that. I suggest, however, that for this type of blogging the writer reads “Who Owns Your Words, Blogger?” from Dave Taylor of Intuitive.com.

    Popular blogs (e.g. ones that have potential revenue stream) have continuous fresh content, and content that’s still relevant years later, even if only for historical purposes. The biggest responses I’ve ever gotten from my blogging was not from the cool liquid-to-sugar-ratio-jelly-making-calculator that took me an hour to code and post about… but from a small post that includes a ringtone from my favorite commercial and one on flickr with a ton of CC open-rights stock photography I took of some paint smeared canvases.

    It’s the posts providing something that people find useful or entertaining years after that keep drawing visitors.

  5. Blogging is first and foremost about *you* (because if you didn’t blog, there wouldn’t be one to read) and
    then it’s about touching the world in your own unique specific way.

    That, of course, has about a bazillion different variations. :)

  6. Blogging is about self.

    Yes, this sounds selfish, because it is.

    One of the major differences between blogs and news sites for example is that blogs are opinionated. A blogger is sharing his views on the niche he’s blogging about and this is what makes it interesting.

    This brings back to the community point. Blogging must be a conversation and be held at a personal, accessible level.

    The “personal” aspect is also what differenciates a blog from a forum. Even the most active blog (excluding corporate ones…) are organized around one person. The blogger.

    There can be a successful news source without a strong personality. But there is no blog without an extrovert blogger.

  7. I like the way that blogs have moved on from just personal diaries, it means that we can get a lot more information and sources of information as well as new ideas and takes on how to do things.

  8. I think it is definitely about community. You can get info from Google, but you can’t interact with the sources. Which is why it is so important for bloggers to respond to readers.

  9. EF Cussins says:

    Right on. The evolution of blogs has change to were it can be used as an online tool by most everyone. I have seen a lot of businesses that use a blog to keep in contact with their customers.

  10. dotCOMreport says:

    I think a blog is the only medium that is a combination of all you listed; it is about community while establishing the reputation of the blogger as an authority. But it is also about publishing. News sites publish but they do not necessarily care about building a community and while forums are dedicated to community, the need for accuracy or ‘authority’ is absent.

    A blog is the only place where all the above are fulfilled without much fanfare.

  11. Tyrus Antas says:

    Blogging is just a publishing format with new “articles” sorted from newest to oldest. That’s it.

    Yes, many people attribute different meaning to the word “blogging” but for all practical purposes, it’s all the same.

    - Tyrus

  12. Manshu says:

    To me, more than anything else a blog is about the blogger. When I think of other blogs, I usually think in terms of the bloggers and not the blog itself.

    This is even true for bigger blogs like TechCrunch where you start reading a post and think oh yeah Mike Arrington must have written this or Sarah Lacy must’ve written this.

    So that to me is a big distinction between a blog and other mediums.

  13. Kevin Tea says:

    I have long struggled with the idea of my site as a blog. First of all it doesn’t look like a blog – or at least John Aguiar says it doesn’t and I feel vaguely flattered by that. Second, as a journalist I have tried to turn my resource into more of an online newsletter or magazine so that makes me a researcher, journalist, editor and publisher.

    The feedback I have had so far on these thoughts elsewhere is that blogging has moved on from the old concept of a spotty adolescent diary and has entered mainstream journalism with some of the better blogs being rated as professional, online journals rather than hobbyist ramblings.

    Judging by some ofd the blogs I fall across, blogging has a long way to go before it fulfils this potential!

  14. Blogs are… well… they can be anything with WordPress. They can be your basic web site as I did for a friend. They can be linkbait for a static web site. They can be a portal to a group of blogs. They can be whatever a static or dynamic web site can be with a little imagination and or programming. So I really don’t think there are boundaries any more.

    For dynamic blogs, content will always be king.

  15. To me (personally) a blog is a new form of literature which will replace the old forms, novels, plays, etc.

  16. Mike Goad says:

    A blog can also be a way of “living” history. I am blogging the American Civil War sesquicentennial by publishing materiel day-by-day from the corresponding date 150 years before. The posts are daily writings from diaries, letters, military reports, news articles and more.

    It’s going to be a nearly 5 year journey through one of the most traumatic times in America. http;//dotcw.com

    This my second time blogging my way through the events of the American Civil war. The inspiration for it the first time was coming across a blog where someone was blogging their way through the diary of Henry David Thoreau, as I recall.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    As many pointed out in the previous comments, a blog is all about the person behind it, the opinion,the idea or the view point he/she projects. When you hear a blog’s name you think about the person(s) behind it.

    I don’t think the blog is dead; as long as personal opinions matter and as long people find that writing is the best way to express themselves, blogs will always exist.

  18. Cheryl says:

    Blogging allowed me to realize I did know something valuable to others. The two-way communication provided by comments gave me the confidence to improve the quality of my content even more.

  19. Hi Georgina,
    To me blogging is about writing regularly online something fresh and new to help educate and stimulate or simply entertain people.
    It is also, perhaps, the most accessible way to share valuable information.
    I must mention a special thank you to all the people who created free online blogging plateforms such as wordpress.
    Best Wishes,
    David

  20. krissy knox says:

    A blog is usually written by someone who has become an authority in a particular niche (hopefully, anyway). One thing I have noticed about forums is that I see a lot of misinformation in them, bc the writings in them are made up of a lot of different people’s opinions — those who are both newbies and longtimers on a subject. Many of these newbies and even longtimers give incorrect information when participating in the forum, esp when it comes to answering another forum member’s question or giving them advice. It seems these advising forum members don’t seem to know how to, or don’t want to, go look up basic information — but still want to give out advice! Sometimes I wonder about those giving out advice, or answering questions — can they not google, and then ascertain what information is reliable? It appears many apparently cannot, or are too lazy to do a search. That is why I often find forums useless — all the misinformation on them. I often find blogs well written and full of fascinating and helpful information, especially PROBLOGGER. It has accurate information, is well focused and is extremely helpful! I also enjoy the community. A community formed by readers who have read each others comments can be an even better way for readers to get to know one another than a forum, because in a forum, others often won’t write for a long time, may write surfacely, or may not give accurate information, as I have stated. On the other hand, if a blog is already well established, a forum attached to it often works great. Finally, while blogs are not totally unique, and are only part of social media, they will always have their draw, as readers will come to read those blogs which are excellent, entertaining, and have expertise content. Nothing can replace great, focused, helpful reading — on a topic of interest to a reader — with posts that are objective, while still being written from the personal point of view of the writer! Yes, blogs will be around for a long time!

    krissy knox :)
    connect on twitter:
    http://twitter.com/iamkrissy

  21. Mario says:

    A blog can be an identity you want to project to the world. Once you find that identity and can expand it, others will happily subscribe and follow. I use my blog for ESL, yes, English as a second language. I still haven’t found an identity to brand. When I do, I will be creating a unique blog. At the present time, I am simply dwelling on generalities in order to justify my server’s monthly fees.

  22. I think blogging from personal blog to making money or with business is on rise. Blogging can make any of us desire to share our own thoughts with the family or world and few of us make side income with it! I think blogging is beneficial and here to stay. (I hope)

  23. Brandon Cox says:

    I love how you’ve brought out the very core, root essentials of what we are all about. I think blogging is also about giving a voice to any and all. That’s not always good, but it’s always right.

  24. The date and time stamps on blogs (similar to the “timeliness” that you mention, Georgina) have allowed them to overlap and blur into the category of “news” sites.

    They’ve allowed people to produce, in a sense, their own self-published newspapers. Just as you wouldn’t want to read an old newspaper to find current information on a topic, if you come across a blog post about search engine optimization from 2004, there’s probably a more recent article that will suit your needs better.

    While original ideas about blogging pertain to a personal narrative, creative uses for blogs have evolved the platform into a way to disseminate information that ultimately relates to business (whether you’re promoting a product, improving your company’s customer service, or updating your loyal fans with latest news about your organization). Long love the entrepreneurial spirit!

  25. Evi says:

    I think not. Blogs will never die

  26. jason says:

    I believe that blogs are synonomous with regular websites, other than the fact that blogs deliver commentary most of the time, so that is really the only distinguishable feature.

  27. LPC says:

    Not all blogs are about information. Some provide entertainment. All blogs, however, are time-anchored statements.

  28. Blogging is whatever you want it to be – above all else it’s a personal thing – it can be to inform, to educate, to communicate, to let off steam, to entertain.

    It’s the great variety of blogs which brings so many together in writing about their passion or interest.

  29. Pak Scout says:

    Well blogging can’t just be publishing. Its more about sharing. And you need to have a community to share with.

  30. I seriously think Blogging is all about giving loads of valuable info to the respective visitors.

  31. I use illustrations, videos & words to build a community on my site. I would say a blog is a solid place for a certain subject for a small or large group of people (and a few surfers!)

    Thanks

    David Edwards

  32. Manuel says:

    A blog is a more personal approach to a given topic. I want to write mainly about personal blogs, because they relate more to the everyday issues people meet in their lives. More than a journal, it is a unique perspective about writing and ideas in general.

  33. Noel Canin says:

    I see blogging as a way to share who we are, what we feel and think, what we would like to express into the world. It’s a way to transcend one’s personal space and link up with people who agree or disagree, develop what we have to say, and create new discussions. A way to learn from each other so we can grow individually and expand our community across the world.

  34. karen says:

    As a blogger….
    I initially started blogging to share with my customers the process of the items I make (I make eco-fiendly handmade items on Etsy), DIY on some crafts, my personal green living journey, and basically to market my shop. Then, it took off to my writing about green living tips, green news, sharing my passion for certain environmental issues, to communicate with my buyers and potential buyers. And frankly, I was so tickled that people whom I didn’t know read my blog! I love hearing how, by reading my blog, people became more aware of their green habits, or lack there of, learned something new about how to be more green, and learned how to upcycle a potentially landfill bound items. It’s a great feeling to know that I make a difference through blogging. Furthermore, because I believe that blogging is more effective than just a static website, I was able to convince a retail business that they need a blog. So now, I will be blogging for them for a fee!! If I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t have obtain that project.

    As a reader of many blogs……I love reading other blogs – like this – and learning how to improve my life. It’s not a newspaper article that TELLS me what happened. It’s reading an opinion of an authority with a little bit of personality attached to it.

  35. Dave Appleby says:

    There are two key differences between creating a blog and creating a wiki:
    # A blog is personal; a wiki is collaborative
    # In a blog information is structured by time (when it was written) whereas in a wiki information is structured by idea

  36. In my case, blogging is Freedom. Freedom to write what I want, the way I want, when I want, and edit myself! It’s about self expression and providing a portfolio of that expression. Blogging can also be a poor man’s ezine to a specific niche market. And while there’s Facebook communities and Constant Contact, blogs offer another low or no-cost means of communication for non-profits among members. Personalizes the “scenes-behind” the organization. The organization just needs to find the dedicated and blog addict volunteer to keep it going.

  37. poch says:

    I’d like to say that blogging is an art or craft. Maintaining a high-quality blog consisting of many recipes is a craft.

  38. Blogger Guy says:

    There are still lots of blogs kept by people who otherwise couldnt get their thoughts and views across.Simple blogs with a simple layout using a WP or Blogger sub domain and still providing great information and packed with content.Some of these blogs are getting thousands of hits daily with no promotion just valuable information and they will keep the Blog Alive.

  39. content and community sums it up.

    I once read that the people who write the history have all the power. I think blogs are changing that as they are becoming the new “history books” and the newspapers and hard copies are dying.

  40. Rusty Cawley says:

    More than anything, blogging is about passion. The real need is with the blogger, not the audience. The need to communicate. The need to explore. The need to learn as much as to teach. The need to reach out. Without passion, a blog is unlikely to survive for long.

  41. Santel says:

    Blogging is still something personal to me. Even I am trying to convert my blog to any important information but at the end of the day, people still need want to read your story, not any other things else,

    Maybe I am not good at internet marketing, maybe I need to learn more things, but this is today what means to me about blogging, it’s something personal!

  42. Shane says:

    I had to think about this but I truly feel that a blog and blogging are multiple thing and that’s the entire point. Darren uses his blogs to solve problems, others use them to deliver company information, and still others keep it entirely personal. It’s not about the blog, it’s about the goal of the blog and the overall strategy. Then it becomes a question of how you accomplish those goals. In a sense, blogging is about theatre. You put yourself on a stage and perform. That could be a business performance or a personal one….

  43. Excellent deconstruction of the foundation of blogging. The other main component of blogging, I think, is what other some of the other comments here call “self” or “personal.” I think of it as personality. It’s the “character” behind the blog.

    Compare the content of a good informational blog with a straight website or wiki site and what you’ll see in the blog is a unique perspective because all the content is filtered through the character’s voice, just as in a good novel, the description is filtered through the viewpoint character’s voice.

  44. I feel the blog is a chance for those who have something to say to have a voice. It’s a good way to let off steam as well as showcase one’s creative side. Plus it’s a good tool to help those who wouldn’t normally write do that very thing.

  45. ANSHUL GUPTA says:

    A Blog sometimes acts as the personal diary of the blogger. It’s the only platform where someone can express their views about the world to a larger community almost freely!

    Non of the other platform like, except youtube ( which I consider a video blog platform!) , provides this feature.

    The two prong importance of blogs is this:

    1. Reach to a larger audience.
    2. Write 1 idea at a time!

    nice post, to which every blogger or prospect blogger can connect with!

  46. Hi, I’m trying to get my blog discovered, and I find my blog is pretty unique. I live in a community of about 40 people in Northern Canada in practically the middle of nowhere. I’m really trying now to make income to try and start flight training, to ultimately be where my real life is, in the sky. I would appreciate any views to the blog and just to have a look around and see for yourself how it is up here. My blog is brand new, but I’ll be adding content steadily! Thanks everyone.

    Dave Dominic

  47. It is about content, information sharing, and news that isn’t always covered in mainstream media. I’m a journalist, and blogging was an adjustment for me. Many of my readers sent me emails requesting that I “get naked” by putting my points of views in my stories. It took an adjustment. As a journalist I was taught to not to take sides. Blogging–especially my area of blogging, which is animal welfare, I definitely do take a stand on many of the issues.

  48. Terms like “blog” and “wiki” are as much about process or platform as they are about content.

    For example, in the travel sector (where I publish), a blog is simply a type of “content site” or “information site.” It may focus on the personal (first-person travel narrative), the practical (“John Doe’s travel tips”), eye candy (“Paris photo of the day”), or community (where the posts set up discussions and the comments are the tail that wags the dog).

  49. David Krug says:

    Blogging as an industry is only going to keep growing. Great article Georgina thanks for sharing.

  50. Mary Donnery says:

    Blogging at it’s best can be a profoundly freeing form of self expression…at it’s worst, a page of rehashed information printed as an excuse to house a few affiliate ads.

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