Five Things That Make a Blog a Blog

Posted on May 17, 2006

Robert Scoble has made a list of five things blogs need to be a blog. Scoble made the list in response to Dwight Silverman's comments about bloggish things on the new Urge music service (from MTV and Microsoft) not really being blogs because you can't link to them.

Silverman writes, "Urge has a set of blogs built around different genres of music, but they are blogs in name only. As far as I can tell, you can't link to them from outside the service, and there are no comments or trackbacks." Blogs without permalinks really aren't going to do very well because bloggers like to be able link directly to the source. Here are the five requirements Scoble listed for a blog to be a blog.

  1. Ease of publishing.
  2. Discoverability. (Pings or technorati or another ping server).
  3. Conversationality. (Trackbacks or as-they-happen referer logs, or now being part of Technorati and other blog search engines).
  4. Linkability. (All posts should have permalinks).
  5. Syndicatability. (All content should be available in RSS feeds).
Some bloggers probably want to put comments on that list but we would leave them off. Other bloggers like Jeff Jarvis refuse to define what a blog is.
I don't care. There is no need to define "blog." I doubt there ever was such a call to define "newspaper" or "television" or "radio" or "book" -- or, for that matter, "telephone" or "instant messenger." A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list. People will use it however they wish. And it is way too soon in the invention of uses for this tool to limit it with a set definition. That's why I resist even calling it a medium; it is a means of sharing information and also of interacting: It's more about conversation than content... so far. I think it is equally tiresome and useless to argue about whether blogs are journalism, for journalism is not limited by the tool or medium or person used in the act. Blogs are whatever they want to be. Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining "blog" is a fool's errand.

Jeff Jarvis is right that you should not be too restrictive about what a blog is. However, people are going to discuss and give opinions about what they think a blog is and what they think a blog contains or should not contain. Newspapers and books are objects we already understand. People can picture the difference between a newspaper and magazine just like they can the difference between a blog and a website. If a book did not have a cover or a spine there would be people that would not be willing to call it a book.

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