Real Talk: What’s a blog?

Do you remember the first Xerox machine? They were huge, slow, but wow, did they make life much easier. No more carbon! As with most technology, they evolved. Other machines came out but as a society we decided to call them Xerox machines, even if they were made by another company. Same thing with Kleenex. It’s sad to say but the same thing has happened with blogs, but with a different twist.

If you ask 10 people what a blog is you will most likely get at least five different answers, all similar but slightly different. My point is everyone will not agree with what a blog is (however just about everyone would agree on what a Xerox machine is). The question is: what’s the difference between a blog and a web site?

If you look at Wikipedia’s definition of a blog, it’s so general that every site made today would be a blog unless the site owner decided to do it the old fashion way with individual HTML pages. That can’t be right, can it? There has to be something that distinguishes a blog from a web site. The data stamped/permalink requirement is a standard now. So what is it that distinguishes a blog from a web site? See a blog could be a web site but a web site is not necessarily a blog.

What’s the difference for me? The ability for readers to add comments to the original post. If a “blog” doesn’t have comments then it’s not a blog, it’s a web site. Interaction not only with the author(s) but amongst each other is what makes it different from a web site, in my opinion. Let’s look at some examples:

1) Robert Scoble BLOG – has date stamped entries, permalinks and comments.

2) (Dave Winer) WEB SITE – date stamped entries, permalinks but no comments.

3) Really Simply Syndication (Dave Winer) BLOG – date stamped entries, permalinks and comments.

4) BoingBoing WEB SITE – date stamped entries, permalinks, no comments.

5) BLOG – date stamped entries, permalinks, comments

Don’t take it personal if I don’t consider your blog a blog. Unless you can give me a reason (beside I want it to be) that your web site is a blog it’s a web site. I mean come on, any site made with MovableType or WordPress is automatically a blog? There are a ton of MovableType sites that are used in a professional setting that look like normal web sites. They are not blogs but people use it because it’s an easy way to put up content. Those sites are not blogs. Heck, if one were to use Wikipedia’s definition any site launched today with a CMS is a blog. If that’s the case, what’s the big deal with the blogging hype? If everyone has one it isn’t special, is it?

If a blog is a web site, and a web site is a blog, then let’s call them all blogs and call it day.