Hands up who wants to get rid of the word “blog”? I’m beginning to wonder whether the word “weblog” has outlived its purpose. But before you call the white coats, let me try and explain.
You see, blogging to me has always meant writing and linking. Seb Paquet has a much more comprehensive definition, but in a nutshell blogging is all about publishing your writing and links. Nowadays we’re entering a stage in the Read/Write Web (aka the Two-Way Web) where publishing to the Web is much more than writing and linking. It’s about music, photos, videos, audio, situated software applications, editing your Orkut profile, etc.
Not everyone is, or wants to be, a writer. Boy have I found that out, the hard way, in my career so far as a Web Producer/Online Manager. Content Management has always been a big challenge in managing an Intranet or Internet website. The trendy strategy in recent years has been “distributed content management” – whereby you deploy a big ‘ol Enterprise CMS, whack up some templates, and hand it over to the business to maintain the content. Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. But in reality, the majority of business people have little motivation to spend their time fiddling around with a website. Even the best Enterprise CMS’s have a learning curve and all of them have some technical glitches and gotchas. So content maintenance often falls back on the IT dept or a Web-savvy team that specialises in content maintenance.
Motivation really is the key word – most business people have no desire to write and publish content and it’s usually not in their job descriptions. Jeffrey Veen wrote an excellent article recently on why Content Management Systems have failed – websites need Editors, he says. Websites are a publication and so they need specialist publishers to maintain them.
To get back to blogging, there is a correlation with Content Management in the business world. Weblogging tools have undoubtedly made it easier for normal everyday people to publish their content to the Web. Just like Enterprise CMS’s make it relatively easy for business folk to create and maintain content on their company’s websites. But here’s the crux: even though people have the tools nowadays, a large majority of them still don’t have motivation to use them.
So far, the blogging world has been mostly all about writing and links. Therefore people who like writing and linking are attracted to blogging. But that’s a small percentage of people who use the Web. A lot of the general public, particularly the young and affluent, are already producing things on the Web. Music, photos, code, and so on. All they need is a vehicle to “publish” those things. For example, I know a few programmers who have some fantastic ideas about web development. But writing words isn’t their forte – writing code is. So they tinker with code, make some notes, try out a few ideas – but all of this never gets published. Weblogs aren’t quite the tool for that.
And here’s where I come back to the word “blog” and why I want to kill it off. Because it’s so ingrained now as meaning writing and linking, it doesn’t express the full variety of things that are beginning to be produced and created on the Web by ‘amateurs’. The phrase “personal publishing” does a better job of describing this new range of multimedia production.
In order for the personal publishing revolution to take off, I reckon we’ve got to break free of “the blogosphere” and propel ourselves into a new Universe of Personal Publishing. Sure, writing is my forte and I use my weblog primarily as a publishing tool. But there’s a whole other world out there, ready to explore!