I intend this page to be never quite complete. As I work through my PhD I will produce a definition of a personal blog that will change as I read, discuss and write.
What compounds the problem of defining a personal blog is that the question can be answered from so many different perspectives. The question “what is a blog?” really becomes “what is a blog to whom?” It can only be answered from the experience of the person answering the question.
For the purposes of my research I intend narrowing down the scope of what I’m researching. To do so I need to answer, “what is a blog for me?” What is it that I will research?
Providing these definitions is simply a way to constrain the scope of my research.
In its most basic form a personal blog is a first-person narrative of the lived experience of its author through a series of web pages arranged in (usually) reverse chronological order.
Reverse chronological ordering and archiving is the default setting for all blogs regardless of their genre. It’s a form of ordering that’s ingrained in the architecture of the Internet (Rosenberg, 2009). Some blogging software permits the removal of reverse chronology but it is rare for bloggers to choose this option. WordPress allows for ‘sticky’ posts that leave a post or posts, chosen by the blog administrator, semi-permanently on top of the archival display. ‘Sticky’ posts are particularly used within blogs of a commercial nature to highlight content with special strategic value.
Blogging software allows for the creation of static web pages. Typical markers of a blog, such as comments, backlinks and tags, are usually removed from these pages. They are also are released from chronological structuration and do not appear in the blog archives.
The production of static pages is not generally associated with the act of blogging itself. Rather, these pages provide context to the blog archive. ‘About’ pages are common.
Comments and backlinks
Comments and backlinks are common, although not definitive, markers of a blog. According to Scott Rosenberg (2009, p. 325) blogging is an essentially social activity . Comments provide a blogger with a convenient way to become a conversation host with each post establishing a context for the conversation that then takes place within the comments area.
Some bloggers, including popular author Seth Godin, have turned their blog comments off. Although visitors can no longer post comments on his blog they can write a post on their own blog with a link that directs their readers to Godin’s post. The resulting backlinks are published at the foot of each post and serve to notify Godin’s readers where they can find more about the subject.
I’ll need to give some thought here.
Diary writing and fiction have a close and enduring association (Serfaty, 2004, p. 33). Heather Armstrong claims to have fictionalised a number of identities and events recounted on dooce.com.
Rosenberg, S. (2009). Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What it’s Becoming, and Why it Matters. New York: Crown Publishers.
Serfaty, V. (2004). The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs. Amsterdam – New York: Rodopi.