Since the turn of the 21st Century, the text journal, or “web-log” foreshortened to ‘blog, has been a popular format for discussion and even dissemination of news! Aside from the novelty and joy of knowing 40 other people recognize your handle, the phenomenon differs little in substance from the long-established “vanity press”. It’s difference in tone, a degree of significance impossible for a self-published author, is found in it’s availability: Successful googling is a measure of value.
Over the short term it’s given rise to a new genre of celebrity, actively defining their own fifteen minutes of fame. Longer term, as google is filled with hundreds, then thousands, then millions of other bloggers and their commentators, this effect will weaken. A different kind of hook is needed to remain relevant to Minute 16 and beyond. In an information economy, any sort of notoriety has value, so this is no small thing.
Study the differences between the best blogs and the best webzines. Plastic and Salon speak to similar audiences with a strong voice. How are they similar? How do they differ?
The critical distinction between blogs and ‘zines is that blogs are a medium of the moment. Action/reaction. Any periodical is reflective to the extent of the deadline. A daily deadline, with no boss or editorial control certainly generates content, but quality suffers for all but the most talented writers. Practice tends not to make perfect, but lazy. Blogs can evolve by becoming less time and popularity driven, and more info-driven with a tight focus on user interest.
It must be understood that users can contribute in many ways, including by lurking in intelligent web spaces. Artists, writers and creators must devise frameworks that encourage all kinds of participation, including subversively responding to attackers (snoopers, trolls, people with too much time). Dataesthetically powerful design seeks and acquires information about fans and attackers alike, and uses it openly to discourage attacks, and better expose the information driving the site. The information itself is the product, and all response is crucial to shaping it.