The blogger, not the blog (2)

If you’re a blogger, and you’re going away for a while… please, don’t feel compelled to get a locum in (as the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond has done). Your blog written by someone else is no longer your blog.

A blog is about giving me an insight to someone’s brain. (And yes, it’s usually someone in the singular.) It’s a personal thing, an intimate thing, a stream of individual consciousness. I read it because I want to know what you think, how you think. If I wanted to read somebody else’s thoughts, I would. On their blog, not yours.

Substitutions like this almost seem to give blogs some kind of official, institutional status. Hence the title of Shane’s posting: ‘The blog must go on.’ I disagree. If the performer in a one-man show is unable to perform, the show is cancelled. There is no understudy.

(PS: I used this title before in a piece on David Miliband. I think it’s the same point, although I didn’t make it explicitly at the time. Blogs themselves are purely a channel for the author to express their thoughts and opinions.)

5 thoughts on “The blogger, not the blog (2)”

  1. Hmmm – I agree that if the blog is owned by the person then that should be the case, but surely there are company blogs where this wouldn’t apply (I’m thinking innocent or Penguin, etc) and also group blogs, where an author doesn’t get missed if they go awol (the excellent lifehacker has a team who often bus in replacements for a few weeks).
    Blogs can be much more than one person’s thoughts (although it would be very odd for instance to have Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin to bus in a replacement).
    For a columnist (such as Shane Richmond), I can see the thinking behind this. In the paper world of newspapers, if a columnist is away for a week, a replacement fills the space left, with a similar topic, if not the same style of writing.
    So the question becomes – do you read Shane’s blog for his thoughts or for the topic he is reporting on? And blogs hosted by newspapers are very different to blogs ‘owned’ by the author.
    This also stirs up what I think could end up being confusion by the general public who still aren’t sure what blogs are – I’ve identified at least 4 types of blogs above which I see as very different animals, but are all referred to as blogs.
    Interesting times.

  2. Mel got there before me. I think the key point is that blogs are a tool that offer opportunities for communication. They are limited only by our imagination. Look at the early days of TV drama – basically pointing a camera at a theatre stage – compared to what we have as TV drama today (in all its different forms).
    Blogs are the same. Some are totally dependent on their author – for example I’m Simon Dickson. Others aren’t.

  3. I’m just coming back after a couple of days ill. Maybe I should have called one of you to fill in for me? 😉
    I think the reason I reacted to the Telegraph thing is that they explicitly moved away from being a ‘team’ blog (Upload), to a more personalised presentation. Then suddenly, by bringing on a sub, it’s back to being a corporate thing again.
    Mel makes a very intriguing statement about ‘four types’. Care to elaborate, Mel?

  4. Mel’s right that there are more categories than personal and corporate, Simon. Our main reason for getting rid of the group name Upload was that ‘Technology’ is more informative and sits better in a list of topics.
    Upload was one of our first blogs and we didn’t feel the need to categorise by subject matter back then. Now we have more than 30 bloggers we wanted people to be able to subscribe to all the technology (or fashion or international or whatever) bloggers in one RSS feed, or have another if they were particularly fond of one person’s style.
    As for the substitute blogger, Shane was going on holiday for a few weeks and Ross was suggested as a possible locum by a mutual acquaintance. It sounded like a fun thing to do so we did it. There was very little conceptualising going on.

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