Monday, May 26, 2008

The "will to blog" and the need for distinctions

Way too many people have already commented on ex-Gawker editor Emily Gould's self-referential New York Times Magazine cover story, Blog-Post Confidential, but I have to complain not so much about Gould but about her editors.

New York Magazine's Daily Intel got there first:
What troubles us about Gould's oncoming article is not that it will be a rehash of everything we've seen before. It's that people will mistake her perspective on the Internet, writing, and fame as the perspective of an entire generation of bloggers.


The "will to blog"

Indeed, this paragraph from Gould's essay stopped me cold:
The will to blog is a complicated thing, somewhere between inspiration and compulsion. It can feel almost like a biological impulse. You see something, or an idea occurs to you, and you have to share it with the Internet as soon as possible. What I didn’t realize was that those ideas and that urgency — and the sense of self-importance that made me think anyone would be interested in hearing what went on in my head — could just disappear.


How did the magazine's editors let her get away with such a gross generalization? The "will to blog," as she refers to it, should be applied (mainly) to writers like her who are essentially publishing instant online diaries.

Stop lumping us all together

The term "blog," as a verb, is already way too inclusive. To quote Bob Guskind of the Gowanus Lounge, who paraphrased his remarks at the Third Annual Brooklyn Blogfest earlier this month:
In our own remarks, we noted that the blogging world had changed dramatically in the 24 months since the first event was held and that the universe of blogs had grown so large that the very term “blogging” has been rendered almost meaningless. Like the label “indie music,” it has come to mean so much that it means almost nothing. There are distinctions to be made between online journalism, place blogs, personal blogs, niche blogs, advocacy blogs and other sub-genres we probably haven’t even thought of.

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