It was inevitable that a column that described blogging as nothing special in the world of writing should open up a further bout of collective self-delusion by much of the blogging community. With a smattering of exceptions, such as Adrants, bloggers ganged up on AdAge columnist Simon Dumenco: giving him the same message many times over, that blogging is different.
How is blogging different? Why it's the conversation, they argue; it's all about the dialogue (I put the links in at the bottom to make the post easier to read). The blogging = conversation assertion stands alone as the greatest of the lies of blogging. I fail to understand why the word has stuck like a leech to this particular invention of the late 20th Century. It has reached the level where people complain about having to email and then post a blog entry because a particular site does not have comments on the same page as the article. Ask yourself, are those people after a conversation - something that can be carried out using email as well as any other two-way medium - or something else? And if it is something else, why do bloggers persist in the use of the word "conversation", other than the word gets top billing in the Cluetrain Manifesto?
In fact, blogging offers a way of avoiding conversation without offence; a method for forming apparent social connections without actually engaging with people directly. People only occasionally get worked up about bloggers not responding to comments or making corrections based on comments. If someone ignores emails, the other party is likely to get a lot more annoyed than if a comment goes unremarked on a blog. That's the thing about conversations - they demand the active participation of at least two parties. A lot of blog conservations are pretty much one-way affairs. The blogger posts something, people comment - often pointing out errors - and the blogger has disappeared, having moved onto the next post. How does this function as conversation? It does not. But it does function as debate. Why are commenters so insistent on having their opinions published if they do not believe they are engaged in a public debate or forum? Why is a private email or phone conversation not good enough? Because those people are trying to convince an audience of their position: that is surely the characteristic of a debate, not a conversation.
The distinction might seem to be pedantic. You could argue that conversation as a word is close enough to what is going on in blogging. Other words have been given bigger twists than this. But it ill serves a community to lecture commentators who are not part of the club on what blogging is or isn't when that community cannot be honest or analytical enough to understand the process in which it is engaged.
As to Dumenco's headline about blogger being a cooler name: just wait until the fashion cycle rolls round and the name is as chic as parachute pants, I guess we'll be seeing a lot more 'writers' online.
Brain of the Blogger
Ad Age Says There Is No Such Things as Blogging..But The Name Is Cool
Blogging Isn't Just Writing, It's a Dialogue
Bloggers Should Explain Blogging Technology
Blogs are (public) conversations, almost like a giant party - This post at least emphasises the public nature of commenting versus emailing.