Matt Gemmell “On blogs”

March 23rd, 2015

I’m still meditating on Gemmell’s piece On blogs a few days after reading it.

Instead of a blog, let your site be a site. Or a journal. An online anthology. Your collected works. Your essays, to date. Your body of writing. A blog is a non-thing; it’s the refusal to categorise what you produce, and an implicit opt-in to the disappointing default.

He’s right, of course. Not all blogs are just weblogs. For example, I do not consider The Watercolor Gallery a blog at all. I consider it an online gallery of watercolor paintings that inspire me. Along with a few interviews, videos, and art spaces. However, it is built just like a blog using the exact same tool that I use to run this site… my site… which has a blog in it.

I think a lot of sites started out as a weblog and have matured both in scope and quality to become much less amateur and much more worthy of a new name. But I don’t know if there is a unified word we can use to describe any one of them.

Daring Fireball went from a site about the personal musings of its author to a site that generates well over half-a-million dollars per year and exclusively announces books. Kottke.org went from just a blog of interesting things to the way Jason made his living. I remember the day it happened.

I don’t think that a blog making money changes it from a blog to something else… but it certainly changes how the author decides to publish, curate, edit, etc. And I think that is the point of Gemmell’s piece. By calling it something else you’ll likely treat it differently. You’ll write things that mean more to you and thus deserve “better” URLs. You’ll hit publish on thoughts that you hope will stand the test of time rather than simply float off into the wind.

I agree with him. Saying that you’re publishing an online tech magazine (which is what a lot of the professional tech “bloggers” call their sites) makes you approach the writing a bit differently than if you were just blogging about tech. TechCrunch, Re/Code, Mashable are blogs. They just don’t generally refer to them that way. If it works for them maybe it could work for you too?

I still like the word blog for my blog. After years and years of posts it has absolutely no rhyme, reason, rhythm, or business model. And I’d like to keep it that way.