Blogging still fresh after all these years?

“It is crystal clear to me now that at least in industries where lots of people are online, blogging is the single best way to communicate and interact, Marc Andreessen concludes after five weeks’ experience with blogging.

Strong and encouraging stuff from the Netscape founder! Nowadays, you are more likely to hear people groaning about blogging or just dismissing the format as “very 2003” or something equally original. Thankfully, the Wall Street Journal reinforces the Andreessen effect with a 10 years blogiversary celebration. (10 years? Yes, in a few months, anyway. As Tunku Varadarajan notes, the consensus is – as far as that is possible – that the blog term was coined by Jorn Barger in December 1997. But of course the blog format was in the incubator from day 1 of the www age. Andreessen himself mentions that he updated a page in 1993 that looks suspiciously like a classic link blog!)

The WSJ has polled an impressive gang of ten about their favourite blogs and relation to blogging, thereby finagling a selection of views and topics that together form a varied panorama. Take Elizabeth Spiers’ precise definition of criteria for a successful blog:

Of the various blogs I’ve written or produced, the ones that worked best — the ones that had the biggest and most loyal readerships — always had a few consistent qualities. They were topically focused, often in niche areas. They published regularly and frequently, typically during office hours and several times a day. They published content that was original or difficult to find, from breaking news to proprietary photographs to obscure links that readers are unlikely to find on their own. They were usually well-written, which has its own intrinsic appeal for anyone who prefers to enjoy what they’re reading. And lastly, they engaged their readership by soliciting feedback and responding to it, in the form of asking for tips, allowing comments or otherwise demonstrating some level of interest in their audience’s preferences.

But all ten of them are worth reading, of course also my old favourite Tom Wolfe’s (unusually taciturn) dismissal of all things “user-generated”.

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