There’s been a kerfuffle in the wider blogosphere lately about Dave Winer’s decision to quit blogging. Basically, there seem to be a bunch of people who can’t live without reading Scripting News every single day, and are pretty much begging him to reconsider. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame even went on to say that Scripting News belongs to its readers.
In his blog Publishing 2.0, Scott Karp says that:
Blogs are PUBLICATIONS whose brand identity exists separately from the “publisher” (i.e. the blogger).
Under this theory, the blog phenomenon represents an explosion in micro-publishing, but blogs still live and die by many of the same rules as Old Media publications. [...] Most blog brands are developed through strong personality and distinctive voice, but once established, they take on a life of their own.
I think this is an incredibly backwards-looking way to approach blogging. A weblog is a publication, without doubt, but it’s not akin to a magazine or periodical. It’s a person, or a group of people, shouting into the void and holding forth on topics they care about. While it may even be targeted to a particular niche, as magazines are, there are thirty million blogs, at the very least, and a much smaller set of magazines for sale at your local newsstand.
Winer’s ongoing egocentric self-advertising about quitting aside, his blog blinking out of existence (which notably hasn’t actually happened yet) doesn’t mean anything. There are tons of blogs out there; many people doing the same things and posting valuable opinions and resources. We’re losing one person’s opinion, which is sad (the more opinions available to us, the closer to democracy we get), but nothing more than that. Part of the strength of the medium is the sheer weight of opinion you can find on any given subject, and I think some of that is lost if we start introducing a culture of celebrity.
I hate the idea of a blog having a brand identity. That seems wrong to me; it’s a personality. Blogs aren’t really things in themselves, they’re recordings of thoughts and events relating to a person or organisation; reflections of people on a particular space. Just people talking.