The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, August 18, 2003

When is a blog not a blog? For some, predictably those bloggers who've been blogging away since the 90s, it's when a hint of polish enters the picture.

This Economist article gives a good, brief overview of how the blogging movement is maturing, drawing apt parallels with the Web in general. In fact, I'd draw comparisons with the birth of other media: Radio, television, even publishing started as non-commercial ventures, dominated by small niches of practitioners.

The article does contain a couple of flat-out errors, though:

Blogger was totally free until Google took it over, and now it charges only for souped-up versions of its programmes—those that offer spell-checking and greater upload power...

This is why Google started putting advertising on some blogs after it bought Blogger, says Jason Shellen, who came with Blogger to Google.

No, actually Blogger was offering Blogger Pro, it's premium (non-free) blogging software/service, months before Google took over. Likewise, part of the deal on the free Blogger/BlogSpot service from the start was the placement of contextual ads on the blog pages; again, Blogger was doing this well before Google entered the picture (this part may have been misinterpreted by the reporter; I'm sure Google added it's own touch to the advertising placement after it took over, but as delivered, it makes it seem like there were no ads on Blogger blogs prior to the Google purchase, which simply isn't the case.) In fact, related to all this, I'd have to say that, so far, it doesn't look like Google has done anything with Blogger; the rollout of the 2.0 version of the Blogger software was in the works before Google took over, and while Google helped pay the bills on that, it doesn't represent any new infusion from the new ownership. I'd say the takeover has been a loud-sounding nothing to this point.

Steve Outing at Poynter takes particular exception with Dave Winer's comment about amateurism (i.e., lack of editing) being a prerequisite for a blog, and, since I am an editor, I have to agree with Outing on how ridiculous that stance is. There's more than enough unintelligible scratchings all over the Web that's not worth trying to decipher, much less read. To dismiss a blog that relies on a collaborative (writer-editor) effort is dumb.