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What Is A Weblog?

A weblog is just a web site organized by time.

I say 'just' because the hype around weblogs makes them both more and less than they are. Weblogs do not represent something brand new in human communication. Diaries closely resemble weblogs and be traced back as far as ancient Greece. 

On the other hand, weblogs are not just a vehicle for navel-gazing by their authors ... unless authors are especially fond of such. It is permitted, just generaly ignored by readers. Too much lint is involved.

Weblogs are Updated Websites

Every website that is updated at least once (this applies to 99.9% of all websites)can be considered a weblog because it contains two entries - whether those entries are called 'posts' or 'stories'.

Any two website items are tacitly organized by time, whether or not an actual date is attached to either of them. One item is earlier than the other; the other was published later than the first one.

Weblogs make the organization of the time-dimension explicit by providing a calendar through which each entry can be retrieved.

Why Weblogs?

Certainly, weblogs have carved out a well-deserved conceptual niche within the Internet ecology.

Templates make it easy to start a site without cracking the arcana of web design or programming.

Editing, posting and generation of the (weblog) website is largely automated.

The simple addition of a calendar (whether text or graphical) joined to the now-familiar hyperlink offers 'more than the sum' of those two simple parts for helping readers orient themselves.

Still, "A weblog is just a web site organized by time."

This matters for two reasons.

First, Define Your Own Objectives

Many beginning bloggers are intimidated by the quite legitimate questions, "do I really have anything to say" and "why should anyone want to read what I write?"

Of course, if the answer to the first question is "no", then creating a web site is silly.

But the answer to the second question is more complicated. Probably, very few people will care about what you write - certainly at the beginning but maybe ever. But this does not necessarily mean that your weblog - your website - is an effort in futility.

Public readership beyond family and friends is a bonus but only you should define whether or not it is a key objective.

Reminding yourself that your weblog is just a website can be very liberating. Many thousands of bloggers have discovered that speaking in their own voice draws a surprising response from friends ... and strangers who become friends.

Second, Suit Yourself

A calendar can be intimidating. Is there any point to a weblog - a website - that is only updated once a week? Once a month? Once a year?

That depends on many factors that go to the heart of why you wish to create a website in the first place. Happily, the last I checked, weblogs contain no explosive devices aimed at those who post material infrequently.

Most weblog tools (and Radio more than most) provide a ready-to-hand design framework. All the author has to do is add 'water' - their content. This ease-of-entry ensures that just about anyone (even you and me) can put their drivel on the Internet without a second thought. Welcome to the Web! I like my drivel ...

Far from negating the value of your weblog or the Internet in general, this validates its benefits. Why shouldn't individuals - just folks - be free to express themselves publicly? Until the past ten years, cultural gatekeepers (publishing businesses across all media) filtered out all but those exceedingly few creators who could make them a buck. Their junk is far slicker than ours but it still smells.

Your weblog may endure for one post or across many decades to come. It may be read sometime by millions or only by yourself as a record of ideas, events and deeds that mattered to you. If it gives you pleasure, you will continue. If it doesn't, you will stop.

And why not?

A weblog is just a web site organized by time.

© Copyright 2002 Russ Lipton. Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.
Last update: 06/11/2002; 8:45:45 PM.