By Kevin O'Keefe

Should we kill off the term Blog?


Twelve years ago when I began blogging, the term “blog” was quite unique. There were few bloggers. The idea of publishing text to websites independent of design and without going through intermediaries was something we’d not seen before. Let alone using RSS that enabled us to “listen” to other blogs and the subjects being written about — we in effect had a discussion going on from blog to blog.

But now the world talks of publishing or content marketing with a blog merely being the vessel from which to publish one’s copy — or to archive one’s copy that’s published on various third party platforms and social networks such as Medium, Facebook or LinkedIn.

With LexBlog launching our new publishing platform, I asked on Facebook a couple months ago “if it matters whether we call something a blogging platform or a personal publishing platform? Or a blog or a publication for that matter.”

Veteran technologist and practically godfather to the blogging movement, having developed blog software and brought RSS to blogs, Dave Winer responded:

I don’t think it matters what you call it, if that’s the question. You call it whatever people call it to communicate the idea. I didn’t like the word “blog” when it first took hold, but that’s what people called what I do, so that’s what we call it. If the consensus were to change, you just change with it. Don’t fight City Hall.

Mathew Ingram, a veteran journalist writing about business, technology and new media as a reporter, columnist and blogger, agreed with Winer:

…not sure it matters what you call it. The word blog worked for awhile (I never liked it either) but I think we’ve moved past it, for better or worse. Publishing platform works as a descriptive term I think.

Then today Mitch Joel, a highly respected journalist, publicist, and marketer writes that the term “blog” could (and should) die.

In short, this is how I have moved the vocabulary of blogs into the shadows, in order to modernize the content that you’re reading:

  • From a blog to a publishing platform.
  • From a blog post to an article.
  • From a blogger to a writer (and, for some, it could be a journalist).

It’s easy to just call this semantics, but it feels more like the proper evolution of blogs and publishing. Blogging used to be the ideal way for those without an audience or publishing history to build their own, and in a unique/more personal voice. Now, with the shift of channels like Mashable and Huffington Post from blogs to publishing empires, and the growth of publishing in places like Medium, LinkedIn and even Facebook’s Notes to publish, there are a myriad of ways for brand (and individual) voices to get published. They all offer different types of audiences, access and distribution, but they are valid choices – and alternatives – to what used to be a very different model (either you got published or published on your own).

All makes sense until you get to the essence of blogging and what many true bloggers do.

Blogging, more than reporting the news, sharing information or penning a column is a conversation. A blog is a vehicle to engage others, courtesy of links and quotes after you have listened to what others have written, often via RSS feeds on a newsreader, Twitter or Twitter.

For lawyers blogging represents an opportunity to engage thought leaders in an existing conversation. An opportunity to grow a network, to learn and build a word of mouth reputation. It’s how we in the legal profession advance the law through dialogue at speeds far greater than journal articles and reviews.

Should we hold on to “blogging” as this sort of literary form as I blogged last week? Should we kill off the term “blog?”

What do you think?

Image courtesy of Flickr by TCDavis

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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