When is a “Blog” not a Blog?

Interesting piece in the Inquirer about the use of the term “blogs” – just like the British to get picky about nomenclature. To wit:

ENOUGH WITH CALLING every site on the (#*&$ing net a blog, people! I know the mass media is filled with dumb sheep that need to spread fear about anacondas in toilets to get ratings, but this has gone too far. What am I talking about? It seems every site that puts up content that is not owned by a major media outlet that has a TV channel is now blogging.

The INQ is a blog, Boing Boing is a blog, and just about every site is a blog. Does it matter what the content is, or how many people work for it? Heck no, it is a blog because talking about blogs make the media worms seem hip, cool, and most importantly not as stupid as they really are. Hint, they are that dumb.

OK, fair enough, so the rule is?….

A single person writing about their experiences, thoughs, or research, no matter how many hits it gets, definitely a blog. Once money and a staff get involved, it loses its blog status and becomes a site.

Don’t know if I’d agree, not that it matters. I think one of the key distinguishing factors of a “blog” is its tone – a bit more off the cuff, more casual, more observational, more frank, etc. etc. – a little more honest – whether or not someone is making money at it or not. Probably not as precise as the folks at The Inquirer but just my $0.02. Least I’m safe for now. Then again, if suddenly I get a million pageviews a day and actually start making making money from this thing hand over fist (which btw isn’t really the point of this blog), I doubt I’d actually care what they call it. And likely neither to Boing Boing et al.

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From time to time, you may notice that this blog isn’t working, or something is messed up, or you see an error message. One of the reasons I decided to setup this blog rather than using something like blogger, wordpress.com, etc., was to muck about with the bits and pieces from time to time. I find tweaking PHP code, looking at new plugins and editing themes to be a nice break from drafting 50 page master procurement agreements. In fact, I would have liked to do everything from the ground up (i.e. set up the box, linux, apache, mysql, php, etc.) but these days hosting service providers make the proposition of setting that up much less attractive. I figured taking care of some (but not all) of the bits and pieces would satisfy my tweaking desires. And let me keep somewhat acquainted with such things. Of course, not being an elite hacker inevitably leads to things that break from time to time.

Switched to WP Engine. Their service was too amazing to resist. I realized that I didn’t have time to do everything, after trying out Linode (great service, by the way).

Anyway, the great (and for the most part free) software and other stuff used to create techblawg.ca:

  • WordPress – amazingly great and overall very, very cool blogging software
  • Theme – Responsive by CyberChimps
  • MySQL – the stunning database engine that will one day take over the entire world, but which in the meantime serves as the back-end database storing all the bits and pieces for WordPress
  • PHP – the remarkably versatile scripting language that WordPress uses
  • Plugins – a whole bunch of little individual bits of code that plugin to WordPress to extend functionality in a million different ways. There is a long, long, long list of different plugins used on techblawg so for the time being I won’t be listing them all out here

Without the work and dedication of all the folks who created the tools listed above and made them freely available, many blogs (indeed, many sites) would simply not be in existence as it would have otherwise not been practical to create them. I guess this is the exact opposite of the tragedy of the commons.

Other things that power this blog are myself, David Ma, and huge quantities of coffee. Hope you enjoy it.