Blog, Blogs, and Blogging, Part 1 of 2

(A Blog is Another Way to Express Our Selves When Writing on the Internet)

The Blog, A Portmanteau Word* Blending Web Log as "We Blog"

*A portmanteau word refers to a word that combines the sound and meaning of two words, e.g., "smog", a combination of "smoke" and "fog"; a system that was used by Lewis Carroll in his Through the Looking Glass; as with, "slithy" as a portmanteau because "there are two meanings packed up into one word". The word portmanteau was an old type of large leather suitcase, especially one which opened out into two compartments; from French portemanteau (porter, "to carry" + manteau, "cloak").

Peter Merholz, who says, "I'm a Web design guy residing in San Francisco, running my first company, engaging in various forms of Web punditry, drinking coffee and scotch (not together) to keep going." lays claim to being the inventor of the word blog. A complete presentation of his personal profile may be found by going to his site at Peterme.

Part of what Merholz wrote in his Play With Your Words Posted on 05/17/2002, are presented in the following highlights with a few modifications for clarification:

  • I have always loved words.
  • I was one of those kids who would run to dictionaries to look up words I didn't know.
  • I loved word play—anagrams, crossword puzzles, double crostics, etc.
  • As such, it's weird to experience how my love of words and wordplay has actually made an impact.
  • Sometime in April or May of 1999 (I can't say for sure when I exactly did it), I posted, in the sidebar of my homepage: "For What It's Worth I've decided to pronounce the word "weblog" as we (wee)-blog. Or "blog" for short."
  • I didn’t think much of it.
  • I was just being silly, shifting the syllabic break one letter to the left.
  • I started using the word in my posts, and some folks, when emailing me, would use it, too.
  • I enjoyed its crudeness, its dissonance.
  • These sites (mine included!) tend to be a kind of information upchucking.
  • "Blog" would have likely died a forgotten death had it not been for one thing: In August of 1999, Pyra Labs released "Blogger". And with that, the use of "blog" grew with the tool's success.
  • And now, it's May of 2002, and over the last few days, "blog" has proven its stickiness in a way I would have never bothered to even foretell.
  • At the "Emerging Technology Conference," a prevailing topic was weblogs, with Steven Johnson's keynote "City of Blogs", with Cory's references to the "People's Republic of Blogistan", other folks speaking of the "Blogsphere", and endless conversations about who was blogging what.
  • Standing at the trailhead is a delightful reward for this nerdy word-obsessed kid who, flipping through Webster's, used to wonder, "who was the first person to say that?"
  • Views about the Structures of Blogs

    In another article that helps us understand this recent phenomenon, Meg Hourihan explains in "What We're Doing When We Blog", June, 13, 2002; excerpts of which are presented below. Sentences in bold are emphasized by me (John R.).

  • Blog posts are short, informal, sometimes controversial, and sometimes deeply personal, no matter what topic they approach.
  • They can be characterized by their conversational tone and unlike a more formal essay or speech, a blog post is often an opening to a discussion, rather than a full-fledged argument already arrived at.
  • As bloggers, we update our sites frequently with the content that matters to us.
  • Depending on the blogger, the content varies; but because it's a weblog, formatted reverse-chronologically and time-stamped; a reader can expect it will be updated regularly.
  • By placing our e-mail addresses on our sites, or including features to allow readers to comment directly on a specific post, we allow our readers to join the conversation.
  • Webloggers often use tools to facilitate the publication of their sites.
  • These tools spit out our varied content in the same format—archives, permalinks, time stamps, and date headers.
  • Online we don't need to produce content of a certain length to meet physical page-size requirements.
  • As the Web has matured, we've developed our own native format for writing online, a format that moves beyond the page paradigm: The weblog, with its smaller, more concise, unit of measurement; and the post, which utilizes the medium to its best advantage by producing frequent updates and richly hyperlinked text.
  • The weblog post is a self-contained topical unit.
  • It can be as short as one sentence, or run for several paragraphs; and it's the amalgamation of multiple posts—on varying topics—on a single page that distinguishes the weblog from its online ancestor, the "home page".
  • Freed from the constraints of the printed page (or any concept of "page"), an author can now blog a short thought that previously would have gone unwritten.
  • The weblog's post unit liberates the writer from word count.
When I say "everybody says so," I mean I say so.
—Ed Howe
When I want your opinion I'll give it to you.
—Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Blog, Blogs, and Blogging, Part 2 of 2.