QUESTION: where would I find articles/essays describing exactly what blogs are (for a person in prison)?

question / pregunta: 

I'm looking for some articles and essays that talk about what blogs ARE (for a woman who has been in prison long enough to have missed the advent of blogs, myspace, facebook, etc, etc). I'm sending her Jenna's excellent "Zines are not Blogs," but I think the piece is geared more towards those who don't know what zines are, not for those who are totally clueless as to what a blog is.

The woman is reviewing a book on zines that sometimes compares them to blogs and it would be damn good if she knew what the hell a blog was. And, since there is no internet access in prison, I thought I would try to be helpful and send her some information to help her along.



Although it is old, I still think that Rebecca Blood's Weblogs: A History and Perspective is still the best explanation of what blogs do and what they mean. For something more recent and bare-bones, Walt Crawford's article Blog or wiki--which tool to use does a nice job of laying out the features of blogs (and wikis), and although it's somewhat library-focused, I think the basic information would still be useful.

I'm trying to find something that relies even less on hyperlinks, since those are frustrating without the internet.

I think you told me you're sending her Alison Piepmeier's "Why Zines Matter" article, but for the sake of others with a similar question, I recommend it.

Answer posted by:
jim miller

This is a great example of a fast moving target. Under Blog, the Oxford English Dictionary says "see Weblog". The second definition of the noun Weblog is: "A frequently updated web site consisting of personal observations, excerpts from other sources, etc., typically run by a single person, and usually with hyperlinks to other sites; an online journal or diary." Their definition of the verb Blog is "To write or maintain a weblog. Also: to read or browse through weblogs, esp. habitually."

But clearly the term "Blog" covers a vast area of communication. See the results for the Google search: define: blog. In the Google Directory, the search "blog directories" gets 126 hits, many of which seem to be private companies' blogs or their directories of other companies' blogs.

You can get a sense of how varied "Blogs" are, by doing a Google web search for: "neuroscience blog" site:edu, which gets abut 36 unique hits out of 163. Many of these are extremely technical interchanges among experts in the field; collaborations on research projects, etc. To make things even more complicated, see the 16 (of about 106) hits for the Google web search: "difference between blogs and wikis" site:edu. Clearly, we do not yet have a neat definition for this relatively recent and rapidly evolving phenomenon.

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science may get about as close as we are likely to get: "Weblog: A Web page that provides frequent continuing publication of Web links and/or comments on a specific topic or subject (broad or narrow in scope), often in the form of short entries arranged in reverse chronological order, the most recently added piece of information appearing first. An example in the field of library and information science is, which accepts postings from its readers... Also spelled Web log. Synonymous with blog. The process of maintaining a Weblog is known as blogging".