The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999.Thinking about it, I guess "blogging" can encapsulate many or all of many different kind of activities:
- Keeping a commonplace book - a place to jot down quotes with commentary. On the web this can expand to images, videos, and links. (Though external URLs are sadly prone to going defunct over time.) This is the single most important task of my blog, and for 4 years before my blog I kept one on my palm pilot. Currently I really enjoy how I can dig up the exact wording and correct attribution of any half-remembered quote.
- Scrapbooking - this is me, this my life, here are some photos.. Months slip into years slip into decades, and this is an excellent way of countering some of that. (Probably the best of this for my site is at tag/photos)
- Journaling - in the writing of essays sense. In my twenties I was aware there was a lot about my motivations I didn't grasp - to quote a coworker teasing me: "Kirk is his own Enigma- 'I just don't understand myself'" Decades later, I've figured some of that out. (A lot of that stuff, and other general interest stuff, at /tag/ramble)
- Gallery Making - for creative folk, it's nice to have a place to show off your stuff, and if you do it on the regular, a blog might make sense. (I don't, so I tend to put stuff at alienbill.com, though often I would put the same stuff I post at toys.alienbill.com embedded as blog entries.)
- Social Clubbing - before the rise of social media, blogs' comment sections were a place to hang out. From 2004-2010 or so my site was a bit of a community hub. Also for a while I had a sidebar mini-blog for my friend Dylan, later opened up to be the sidebar of the people.
- "Dear Diary"-ing - I have a private diary webpage I keep to myself, but it's super-boring anyway. (Folks like David Sedaris or Carrie Fisher have published excerpts from their journals, and they are much better at that kind of experience-based writing than I am.)
- Topical Writing - of course many blogs have a single theme, like tech or cars or what their company is up to or what not. I have a separate "developer blog" Kirkdev - the voice there is "notes to my future self that others may find useful", but other blogs take a more authoritative stance.
Social Media covers many of those same outlets for many people. A while back I wrote on The Facebook:
But Facebook banks on one brilliant idea, one other sites leverage as well: empowering users to assemble a collated page/wall/feed of content from people the user finds interesting. Sites using this trick -- Tumblr, LiveJournal, Twitter, Instagram and FB all had different hooks (visual collectors, diarists, pithy bon mot makers, snapshotters, and people you know, respectively) and of all of those FB's "people you know in real life" seems to be the most compelling in a universal kind of way.Those are all legit outlets, but I am wary at having my content potentially lost to corporate mishandling or malfeasance . I come from the DIY oldschool - a group privileged enough to have the knowledge and freetime and funds to build the tools we use to post stuff. The barrier to entry is high there, but there's almost total control over the results. But then again I end up mirroring nearly everything I post on my blog on Facebook, because that's the only way I have of getting feedback. (And it hurts when you realize how few people any individual post gets put in front of... feels weird to have to sort-of go viral just to get a piece of content in front of the majority of your friends and family)
The other element is the private/public aspect. For many folks, many of those categories list, especially "Dear-Diarying", Commonplace Booking, and Scrapbooking, might be better served with private tools - maybe even paper! Personally I've always been more interested in attention and knowledge sharing than privacy, but I know different people manage that balance differently.
(Last year kottke collected 3 interesting essays, Did blogs ruin the web? Or did the web ruin blogs? - worth checking out.) RIP Ross Perot. I sometimes wonder if his 1992 campaign denied re-election to the elder Bush, and if the backlash about losing what was "rightfully" theirs spurred the "Contract With America" (brilliant piece of propaganda, that) and from there it's all been more and more unlikely extreme swings. Also in a day and age where executives seem unworldly tall, a 5'5" guy becoming a self-made billionaire is a good story.