The Null Device

Blogging: linkage vs. commentary

Over the time I've been writing in this blog, I've become aware of two different philosophies of what a blog is for:
  1. A blog is a chronological list of links to articles/sites on the web viewed by its compiler (that is, quite literally, their "web log")
  2. A blog is a chronological list of short pieces containing commentary or opinion, and often linking to the subject being commented on

Blogs started out as (a), a sort of shared hotlist in chronological order, with minimal commentary. Gradually, the human instinct for self-expression (or, if you will, the tendency of memes to reproduce themselves at every possible opportunity) won out and blogs expanded into longer entries, with more analysis, commentary, opinion, personal prejudice and/or miscellaneous rambling. The requirement for each blog entry to be a link to a URL on the web gradually fell by the wayside, with many blogs being indistinguishable from journals, chronologically-arranged photo albums or a combination thereof.

Anyway, while writing in this blog, I became aware of a tension between these two uses. Is this blog a chronological record of sites I've seen, or a place to write in? If I link to every Grauniad article and SourceForge project of interest, it will drown out the actual content in the blog, and the signal-to-noise ratio will deteriorate. However, to maintain a blog worth reading, only a fraction of the things I look at and find interesting get blogged.

Consequently, I have just added a new section: the linklog. This is what it sounds like, a chronological list of links to URLs. There's no commentary (other than the title), and less editorial honing than in the main blog proper; I'll post articles to it as I see them, without taking the time to comment on them; though later the links may be used in longer entries in the main blog.

The linklog is now visible in the sidebar of the blog page. There is no user comments facility there, nor will there be (if you wish to comment on any of these links, mention it in your own blog; there are several sites which allow you to keep a blog quite cheaply if not for free).

There are 8 comments on "Blogging: linkage vs. commentary":

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com/ Fri Aug 8 09:33:17 2003

Interesting. Actually, I'd identify three distinct types: the linklog, the chatty/whiny journal/weblog hybrid (which took off early 2000), and the op-ed blog (which took off post-11/9 - which could encompass everything from dry analysis to inarticulate rage...)

Way back when I started VM, it was more as a place to dump random thoughts and ideas, without it being a journal, than anything, though it settled into becoming your typical "hybrid" weblog within the month. I tend to play it day by day, depending on whether I've got a bee in my bonnet or not. I'm happy to say that VM hasn't veered much in its style, though it's cognisant of the blogosphere that's developed since.

Posted by: Ben http://leviathan.weblogs.com Sat Aug 9 08:26:36 2003

Don't forget the Brittney Blogs, which don't have links or any real commentary of any note. They are sort of like non-static personal homepages.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sat Aug 9 09:38:48 2003

Haven't they all moved to LiveJournal?

Posted by: Eliot Gelwan FMH http://gelwan.com/followme.html Sun Aug 10 06:50:43 2003

I agree with you about the tension between posting links with minimal commentary (the original sort of weblog, from the inception) and what Graham calls the op-ed weblog, although he has a very short memory if he thinks that is only a post-9/11 phenomenon. It's a stylistic choice to separate the two types of posts; me, I just intersperse them...

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sun Aug 10 07:22:20 2003

I used to do that, but then I have the dilemma of (a) culling most of the links I see as insufficiently interesting, or (b) diluting the opinions/commentary with links.

What proportion of articles/sites you see and find at least somewhat interesting would you say you blog? I'd guess a minority.

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com/ Sun Aug 10 14:02:29 2003

OK, perhaps I meant the "aggressively lampoon other people's opinions" weblog.

Posted by: JAY http:// Tue Oct 14 22:17:17 2003

WHYY DO GOTHS SMELL?...............................................SO BLIND PEOPLE CAN HATE THEM TOO (HE HE HE XX)

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Wed Oct 15 02:13:35 2003

Interesting. And what does that have to do with the function of a weblog?

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