Refering to Philocrites, a couple of days ago, I wrote, “we also seem to disagree about what a blog is; see his â€œWhatâ€™s next for UU blogs?â€)”
Here’s the deal: I don’t think Phil’s Little Blog on the Prairie is very bloggy. I think it is well-written, helpful, and a laurel to Unitarian Universalism. I’d call it a specialized Internet newsletter. Why? It is regularly periodic, sticks close to its mission, but above all, it isn’t interactive. To me, that reads newsletter, not blog.
Blog is short for weblog, and when I think of a log I think of the ledger-sized book kept in the pastoral care office of my clinical pastoral education setting. My entries would go in with the chaplains and other interns like
7:30 p.m. Made rounds on 2, 3, and 4. Provided pastoral support with family of patient John White in SICU. Called by charge nurse to pray with Pat Green at her request. Released body of Mary Brown to ME.
and so forth. Short — far shorter than this entry! — bits of information for the people who will next read it, and there’s room for further comment. I suspect there would be more written about John White . . . .
Blogging, as a genre, suggests immediacy and responsiveness and we have technology that makes that possible. I think you can try out ideas on a blog that wouldn’t rise to a developed thought. You can (try to) drum up ideas or garner help on a blog. Blogs are great for sharing the new-new-newist resources and stories without anymore comment than a URL. These are unlikely to fly in a conventional newsletter, or at least they wouldn’t likely produce useful outcomes.
Periodicals past depended on letters to the editor or rebuttals for responsiveness, or writers who went out and gathered others’ thoughts. Ink and paper and mail slowed the process. Even so, looking back, there were writers who today would likely be bloggers — Hosea Ballou and Orestes Brownson come to mind — while others would be careful, even reserved or aloof, essayists. (I don’t see Emerson blogging.)
So the disagreement is philosophical (though hardly highbrow) not technological.
Philocrites is a journalist, and I expect him to act like one, and see the blogging technology as a way to make the producing of periodicals cost- and time-effective. Blogging software is a species of content management system (CMS) software, and complex websites and some print publications depend on a CMS, so the appeal to blogging software is obvious: ’tis a simplified application of what works for others.
So there will be an important place for newsletters, reports, textbooks, magazines, white papers and other refined texts online — how else could some be published otherwise? — but these aren’t bloggish, and don’t need that cachet.