Blogging’s three adjectives

What differentiates blogging from all other types of writing? From my admittedly non-rhetorical re-reading (actually more like re-skimming) of Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” I have concluded that the definition is actually threefold:

1) Blogging is instant.

2) Blogging is personal.

3) Blogging is communal.

Blogging is instant in that its goal is to convey some happening or idea as close as possible to its occurrence in time or conception in the mind. Blogging is personal in that it relates those events and ideas to a specific person, namely the blogger himself. And blogging is communal in that it is intended for others to read and invites their perspective as feedback.

This is probably the same definition I would have come up at the beginning of the class when reading Sullivan’s piece for the first time. However, what has changed between now and then is my application of this definition to other social media. For example, isn’t Facebook also instant, personal, and communal? What about twitter? A mass email to some friends? Even an announcement posted on that old-fashioned medium called paper?

Through my experience blogging for this class, I have begun to expand my perception of the term “bloggging” beyond merely a URL followed by .blogspot or .wordpress. Just as Sullivan differentiates between traditional and new media, can’t the term “blogging” be similarly divided between the traditional blog and its newer social media relatives that also meet the threefold instant, personal, and communal definition?

5 thoughts to “Blogging’s three adjectives”

  1. Good thoughts, Joe! I would like to add to/push back on your unpacking of point 2 (“blogging is personal”) by posing this question: Isn’t much *quality* writing of any kind personal? I find the least personal academic essays, for instance (in which the author attempts to hide their own commitments or even EXISTENCE behind “objective,” “academic-y” prose) frankly beyond boring–I find them bad. So might we think about expanding your “blogging is personal” point (with which I wholeheartedly agree!) to good writing in general? What say you?

  2. Although you stated that you skimmed while re-reading Sullivan, I think the three main points you found about his ideas of writing are spot-on. It is interesting to compare blogging to other social media though because I sometimes consider blogging more similar to writing papers as opposed to sending a mass message on Facebook per say which is also personal, communal, and instant as you said. Do you think that blogging is more similar to paper writing or is that just me? Do you think this is because we are assigned prompts or because we do this for a class?

  3. Joe,

    I think all of the points you address here are very interesting! Like Abby mentioned, I think the three main points you extracted from Sullivan’s piece are spot on. I especially enjoyed your comparison of the concepts of blogging to other forms of social media. I had never taken the time to consider how similar blogging is to Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is pretty crazy how similar they are! I think even more so it is incredible how unbelievably intertwined they are. Blogs are almost always connected to some form of other social media account, and blogs themselves are publicized and shared through Facebook and twitter all day long. They feed off of each other and largely depend on each other to function.

  4. Shelley,

    I agree. Originally, I was thinking that while personal writing is always good writing, the converse of that statement may not always be true. In other words, for writing to be good it is not an absolute requirement that it be personal. Or is it? The more I think about it, the more I agree. Even superbly-written newspaper articles, business correspondence, and even math textbooks inject the writer’s personality into the pages, even if very subtly. That is, in fact, precisely why they stand out above the rest.

    So yes, I agree that ALL good writing is inherently personal. Actually, it MUST be personal because it was written by a person, not a robot!

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