Weblog, Remember That Word?

Weblog (15ish years ago): A thing where people used to log their thoughts on the web.

Blog (now): Any website owned and authored by any number of people, for any purpose (business, academic, promotional, artistic), not even necessarily containing words at all, but with the unifying characteristic that people can usually leave comments.

What happened to the word blog? Join me as I step up onto my soapbox… Dumb question. Or maybe a legit question. Who knows. What exactly is a blog these days?

Back in the days when Livejournal and Blogspot were hot, I remember blogs being, well, web logs. I had a cool, artsy, angst-filled LJ for a hot minute where I groaned about typical teenage stuff. Everyone I knew did.

Man that final exam sucked. But OMG my crush totally asked me to go see Harry Potter with him!!! I think he like-likes me!

You know, like a diary but for the whole world to see. Back then, like now, there were blogs that are more like diaries, and blogs that are devoted to any number of topics, like cooking, baking, faith, gaming, fitness, fashion, lifestyle, books, movies, and so on. And those aren’t what I’m talking about here.

My question is, when did we start using the word “blog” to refer to websites that, I think, arguably aren’t weblogs at all? 

Namely, the following:

“Blogs” hosted and authored by large organizations. Virtually every university these days has a blog, as do many think tanks, museums, health institutes, and businesses. As delicious as the British Museum articles are, that’s not a blog. And as much as I’m obsessed with Tory Burch, she doesn’t have a blog. In my opinion, these are all webzines. They are commercially produced, highly curated, multi-authored powerhouses with an inherent bias. Which is fine — I mean, I wouldn’t expect to read Tory’s blog and have her rave about her new Louboutins. The beauty of sites like this is the wealth of expertise and sleekness they can afford. But even if these sites have posts that are authored by individuals, the fact that the individual(s) themselves don’t moderate, organize, and design the site themselves, to me, makes it an online magazine.

“Blogs” that have almost zero words. This mostly applies to the preppy fashion blogs I love to despise, but it drives me nuts to come across sites that call themselves blogs but are really just glorified Instagram pages. I used to be addicted to Insta, and I still love taking photos, so I’m definitely not knocking people who have a fancy DSLR and a knack for photography — kudos to them, genuinely! But I’m sorry, if the only words on your “blog” are the captions on photographs, it’s not a blog! It’s a portfolio of your photography or your modeling or your fashion, which is awesome — really, it is. The world needs artists of all sorts, but please call it a portfolio or a photo-journal. Want examples? Check out this or this.

Many accounts on tumblr, for a few reasons. One, I think a lot of accounts on tumblr are reblog accounts, meaning their content is a potpourri of other accounts’ posts, with very little if nothing original. Two, even for accounts that regularly post original content, it seems like a lot of it is pure photography. Three, for accounts that do actually post words (words! what are those?!), my experience is that the commenting mechanism in tumblr basically makes it a hybrid of reddit and a generic, troll-laden message board.

*steps down from soapbox*

Tell me, how do you personally define the word blog?

If you disagree, I would genuinely love to hear other perspectives. I do of course understand that languages are always evolving, and that, as such, words can change meaning over time. So if you disagree with me and think blogs are much broader now than they used to be, please chime in!

And if what I wrote resonated with you, do you think I missed any categories of non-blogs?

Advertisements

6 comments

  1. I think that the word blog has evolved into a kind of catch all world for when you don’t know how to describe a website. I would argue that my own site is not a blog in the strictest sense, I post short stories, I have a page that is actually a mini e-commerce store, I don’t really blog my life, it’s kind of a post whatever is on my mind kind of space, a place to write something other than long fiction. For the longest time I called it my ‘website’, still do sometimes when trying to make it sound more professional than it is, but it falls into the blog category in its new broad definition of the word.

    I would argue that a blog is a regularly updated website or page where posts are ordered from most recent to oldest. I know this is broad but I think it fits the evolution of the blog space. I agree that the usage has kind of watered down the term, made it seem lame. We need a new term for true blogs, maybe ‘wogs’ or ‘POJS’ (pronounced ‘pogs’ and stands for Personal Online Journal Site).

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Craig, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I totally agree with you that I think the word “blog” has become a catchall none-of-the-above type word, rather than a definition itself. You bring up an interesting point regarding sites like yours that may be part-blog, part-commerce, part-publishing venue. I suppose, as you point out, the nomenclature all depends on how strict of a definition is used.

      I definitely like your suggestion of a specific, defined term for traditional blogs. I like both of your suggestions, perhaps ‘wogs’ best since it’s still a shortening of weblog.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I did not start ‘blogging’ until 2009. I tried it for about 2 months and then gave up until this past December. Having only blogged now for a month, my definition is skewed.

    However, I will say this: all things evolve with use. As things become popular and more people begin to use them they tend to move away from their intended purpose and evolve into something else.

    I would use Facebook as an example. When I began using Facebook in 2007 you had to have an actual University or educational institution that connected you to the account. Not just anyone could sign up! And they had a function where you could log the classes you were taking each quarter (semester, whichever your school uses) and it connected you with the actual students you went to school with. The purpose of Facebook was to be an online book of faces for people you went to school with. Now what the hell is it? Myspace for a new generation. Why? Because too many other people wanted to use it, but they want to use it in their own way. Thus the medium adapts.

    I will say this too, in regards to Tumblr, I am just as disappointed in that site. I love it because I can collect all my favourite quotes on it, but you are absolutely right. 90% of the accounts are just re-bloggers and the majority of it is pictures and other dumb stuff. I’ve hacked my ‘followed’ sites down to 5 on there because everyone else is a waste of my time.

    Again, the definitions and purposes change with demand. Such is life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for directing me to this post. It was a great read and I’m definitely going to pencil in your ‘blog’ for a thorough read-through off the strength of this post alone.
    I think everything eventually gets jumped on by John and Jane.Q.Public because nobody wants to be left out. So something that starts off as a great idea and great product eventually gets diluted by the amount of stupid getting poured into it. Those of us using the product for its originally intended purpose get shunned in favour of those using it for usually vainglorious purposes. Those types of people require no depth to follow and support and they all attract one another. That leaves us ‘enlightened’ few to trudge through the sea of stupid to try and find and connect with one another, often completely missing one another in the desperate search. All we can do, my new friend, is continue to do what we do and hope the enlightened few eventually stumble upon us

    Liked by 1 person

    • First and foremost I must thank you for reintroducing the word vainglorious into my vocabulary. For a fun little game, I might try to shoehorn that word into a casual conversation today.

      On a more serious note, I wholeheartedly agree that the biggest frustration in all this (aside, perhaps, from the injustice of unearned web traffic these sites get) is that it is increasingly difficult to find like-minded bloggers. And by like-minded I obviously don’t necessarily mean of the same religious or political opinions. (I love a good clashing of thoughts!). What I mean by like-minded bloggers is simply bloggers who write proper sentences (no matter the subject) and actually engage with fellow bloggers beyond a cursory click of the like star.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m totally with you on that. I love a good debate, especially if it’s one I actually learn from. Over here in Britain, the argument most people seem to have is what a bread roll is called. That is a massive indicator as to the intelligence of the layman nowadays and it fucking depresses me. Enlightening conversation is so scarce that it sends me under. What really kills me inside is that I actually get dragged into other people’s puerile nonsense online and invariably end up in a slanging match. It’s shameful of me, but I’ve realised it’s usually as a result of boredom.
        I’m like you and always hunt for words I can drop into casual conversation. That is until I realise the only people I talk too regularly who use words of more than two syllables are all on WordPress. Haha.
        I don’t mind people liking my stuff without reading as every little helps, but I am much more grateful for those who actually feel I’m worth taking the time to read and comment. That is massively more flattering

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s