A Blog Is a Blog and a Car is a Horseless Carriage

Good writing. Personal viewpoints. That’s what its all about. Tom Caotes’ A Horseless Carriage provides a well written, personal perspective on the evolution of weblogs, but he writes not strictly about the history, and more on a broader definition

This means that whatever you’re planning to use weblogs for, then you’ll fid them most naturally useful if you keep the individual at the heart of the enterprise. That means if you’re interested in knowledge management, or in community generation or in using them for publishing or whatever, then you should keep that idea of an individual voice at the centre of your thinking…

But it’s all got to be about the individual. And my preferred way of expressing that is that a weblog is a representation of a person. I think that’s behind all of the definitions that people came up with before. I think that’s the core principle that stands behind the idea that a weblog is a journal, or that they’re collections of links that I’ve seen on the web or that they’re space for an individual to undertake a new form of journalism, etc. etc…

And my contention – to bring us right back to the beginning – is that all of those statements (“A weblog is a kind of diary”) are kind of like saying that “A car is a horseless carriage”. For years we had to descrive cars by reference only to things that had come before, but we don’t need to do that any more. Enough time has passed that we can describe a car without talking about its origins or its analogues – without talking about things that are kind of like it. Now we can start to conceive of a car without thinking of horses and suspension and traps and carriages.

So the point (I surmise) is that at some point soon, we will not have to describe weblogs by referring to something similar, because there will be enough experience and familiarity with them to just refer to a “blog” and people have a built in definition (personal one).

It’s similar to the transition where in the mid 1990s we had to refer to this as the “World Wide Web” and we had notions of “Information Highways” (see my early sarcasm) and or “Networked Encyclopedias”… now we can just say “the web” (without quotes) and people know what it is.

By way of serendipity.. I came here from RSs reader to Ben Hammersley’s Simple is the New Black… citing how he and Coates’ Plastic Bag are retro-designing their web sites to simplicity. Maybe it will go as far as grey pages and blue links only?

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. You know, the more I’ve thought about it, the less I’ve come to hate the ‘information superhighway’ term, and I think Al Gore took a big drubbing on the term unfairly. I understand your disdain for hype, but the nice thing about the term ‘information superhighway’ was that it had lots of good connotations about the network backbones as public goods, just like highways – things that it made sense for public money to be used to fund becuase, just like highways did in an earlier age, the networks would become a keep piece of facilitating infrastructure that spurred on economic growth and provided ‘mobility’ to the citizens. And now that we’re seeing major commercial ISPs making moves to curtail types of content on their networks, and the possibilities of balkanization etc, it begins to me too look like a less stupid metaphor than people actually thought.

  2. Darn, Scott, this is why I respect you so much. I end up typing first, thinking later… Yes, my Al Gore sarcasm was vintage 1994-95 when what we take for granted now was being pitched with great zeal. So I stand corrected that the metaphor has decreased in stupidity as that publi funded infrastracture has enabled just about all of what I enjoy most of the net today, and has made the possibiltiy of the on ramps, off ramps, communities for open source, etc.

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