A friend at church asked me what a blog is. And he didn’t quite say it, but I think he also wanted to know why I had one.
At the simplest level, blog is short for web log—a kind of online diary. In the beginning they were no more than that—lots of people saying lots of things, ranting about their pet peeves and relating their experiences in a format accessible to family and friends.
There is still a lot of that, and you might argue that my own blog is little more than that, or no more than that. But this form of self-publishing has matured quickly, giving it new and deserved respectability.
This has happened in two ways. For one thing, many blogs came to be about something in particular, exploring topics or issues in a thoughtful and articulate way. For a more extended discussion of blogging, see Meg Hourihan’s article What we’re doing when we blog.
My own vision for this blog was originally that I would explore the issue of effective advocacy, hence the name daysman, an old English term for advocate. More recently, since the death of my father and my own contemplations of mortality, it has become about transitions.
At any rate, a good blog is by a knowledgeable person who writes about a specific subject–unless they think of something else they want to write about. But it is the reader, not an editor, who gets to decide if the author knows what they are talking about. If a blogger writes about something in particular, and they write about it convincingly and passionately, then eventually their friends tell their friends. Soon there is a following, and strangers drop by to see what the fuss is about. Some blogs become so credible they are cited in main steam media.
In this sense a blog is similar to other kinds of publications. They are published, and if readers like what they get, they recommend them to others. But a blog is different in at least one important aspect: readers comment online so that the blogger receives immediate feedback in a way that is not the case for paper publications.
Because of this, a blog becomes a work in progress, adapting as the writer encounters new material and as the readers raise new questions or insights. A good blog is not just about a topic; it is about a relationship—the relationship between the writer and the readers. It is not a journal, it is a conversation. It is not a collection of essays, it is a collaboration.
The implications of this are far reaching. Publishing is accessible to everyone, and readers can choose from more sources of information. This in itself is revolutionary. But more than that, it is a form of publishing that creates a new level of intimacy between the writer and the reader.
Which leads to the second question: why do I have one?
Well, partly because I have something to say. And partly because you do too. So click on the comment button below. Talk about your own transitions. Or talk about mine.
We may both learn something. Or create something.
It’s called a blog.