David Weinberg: Why Blogging Matters


Blogging has excited the Internet community, the technical community, the business community, and others in a way we haven't seen since the early days of the WWW. People who talk about "the bubble" clearly have missed the importance of the web. The Internet and the web are still here. What's driving this? The fact that the Internet is a place for conversation, not just a place to find things.

What is a blog? We do need to get past this. Here are some characteristics:

  • Daily
  • A few paragraphs
  • Reverse chronological
  • Linked in (little acts of selflessness)
  • Voice
  • Not technology

Blogs are full of voice. They are rhetoric, a social phenomenon, and something more.

On rhetoric. The is some importance to writing badly. More to the point, that you're reading a first draft because its published frequently. Readers thus tend to me forgiving. Forgiveness is not a bad characteristic to be knitting the world together with.

As a social phenomenon: blogs have a place. We are constructing a social self. This is fundamentally different than USENET or email. My blog is a proxy for myself. When you meet people that you've read for a time you feel like you already know them.

So what about authenticity? The M&M's view of our selves. There is an authentic inner core and a public outer shell. Words like "authentic," "honest," and "sincere" describe the correlation between these two selves. You weblog as a "self" has just one voice, so is it more like the inner core or the outer shell?

The web favors good writers and pushes for self-exposure. It also favors the unemployed! (Big laugh.) The recession has been the best thing for weblogs. There's some real truth in that (like all good humor).

Rather than talking about blogging and Journalism, Dave talks about blogging and truth. The claim is that objectivity seems the world as it is. This brings us multiple stories or views, expert sifting, and a community baseline. The weakness is that journalists are humans, so journalism can't be fully objective. Subjectivity's claim is that it shows us out world as it is. The strengths are that it acknowledges the observer and their context. This might capture more of the experience. The weakness is its scattershot, raw, and individualistic.

Blogs, for the first time, give us "multi-subjectivity." You get multiple reports and multiple sifters. The blogosphere contains multiple points of view from multiple cultures, contexts, etc. The Internet allows us to see all of this. Previously we could not read multiple points of view.

Some groups don't like this.

Businesses have grown up in a culture where knowledge can be controlled. They are a fort that carefully controls what knowledge comes in and goes out. Weblogs punch holes in the wall. Companies are no longer the sole source of information about their product.

Knowledge gatekeepers like journalists have gotten used to being the one true source. This began as a quest for trying to figure out what's worth listening to to a quest for certainty. Knowledge became so anorexic that it has no contact to humans. The real world is not about certainty. I missed some things here.

One way to get information when you're shopping for appliances is to look at the Kenmore site. The information is there, but a long way down and not very useful. Another way is go to google and type "kenmore maytag information." The second way leads to sites with real information about drying sheets and that the buzzer is too loud. Furthermore, it believable because its not marketing material. Its not being pitched.

Alienation. Dave uses this word to describe the modern experience where were have weird ideas about reality totally disconnected from real human experience. He claims that blogs are popular because they are about human experience---they are the antithesis of the alienated experience.