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February 2006
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Blogs and e-zines

Recently in one of my editorials I waxed indignant (indignant takes a nice sheen when properly waxed) because a blogger specializing in political rants referred to me as a blogger. You might suppose that I objected to be counted as being in his company and one of his sort. Not at all.

After all there are all sorts of bloggers, and some of them are quite decent folks, talking about quilts and their gardens, and the other trivia of their charming country lives. Some people talk about music and cars, and others about conservation. I imagine there are quite a few who specialize in teen-age angst, but I have been blessed to have missed most of them. (Not all, as it happens - at least one was passing off a bit of my poetry as her own. One of her, ah, friends alerted me to her little foray into plagiarism.)

No, my objection was and is that my site is not a blog. Rather, in so far as it is anything other than a confused mess, it is an e-zine. A recent correspondent admitted to some confusion about the terms 'e-zine' and 'blog' and what the difference, if any, between them might be. Well might he ask.

One source of confusion is that blogging is all the latest rage. Everyone, it seems, is blogging. Political reputations rise and fall with the currents in the blogosphere. Conventional journalism is passe - the bloggers are baring the real news, unrestrained by decency, accuracy, or a proper respect for the needs of corporate Amerika. (Forbes recently had a nice rant called the attack of the blogs.)

As usual a surprisingly large percentage of people are not with the latest rage. They have lives of their own to live and interests of their own. Many people have heard about blogs and even have read a few, but are unclear on the concept. All will be clear to them if they but have the patience to wade through this essay.

Blogs and e-zines have different structures. A blog (short for web log) has the structure of an on line diary. That is, there is a single author who records thoughts and observations in the form of sequentially dated entries as a single stream of consciousness. An e-zine, on the other hand, has the structure of a magazine. That is, there is a sequence of issues, where an issue is a unit containing a number of labelled (usually) pieces, e.g., articles, stories, essays, poetry, editorial comment, and correspondence. Usually the content is written by multiple authors, though it can all be by a single author.

It is the latter case, that of an e-zine publishing works by a single author, that creates confusion. Each is a form of personal journalism. The confusion arises when people think of blogs and personal journalism as being synonymous. All of that said, what, you may ask, does it matter?

That is a good question, and I suppose it doesn't matter in the larger scheme of things, whatever that may be. (I always find these "larger schemes of things" rather suspect. Somehow it always turns out that the persons promoting these larger schemes have their own private agendas in mind.) Still, it does matter - in the nature of things blogging is a restricted sort of thing to do. The great tendency is for a blog to be focused on some particular here and now. Thus a blogger who has a political focus will comment at length on the current political event of the day. Someone writing a more personal blog will reiterate the personal trivia of their lives. Usw.

What I had in mind for this web site was something larger in focus. From time to time I natter about current events, either in the world at large, or within my own personal life. For the most part I do this in the editorials. Even there the function served is to be amusing and interesting (at least that is the intent) rather than adding my voice to the current cacophony.

This personal narrative is, however, only a part of what this web site is about, and a small part at that. Here I post copies of my fiction and poetry. Here I record the anecdotage of my life in the off chance that someone will be moved to write my biography. (An alternative explanation is that if I record my anecdotage on the web I rid myself of the compulsion to regale others with my little stories.) I have scholarly interests - here there is a record of my investigations. I am a humble contributor to the universal encyclopedia of human knowledge. Here you will find such minor bits as recipes for whole roast camel and mountain oysters. And, as a good cyber-anarchist, I sabotage the universal encyclopedia with pages such as my biography of "Calamity" Jane Austin.

Still, honesty compels me to admit that I do not want to be mistaken for the seedier sort of ranters who uses their blogs to scream invective at the world. If that can be achieved by contending that I am not a blogger, why so much the better for me and the world.


This page was last updated February 1, 2006.

Richard Harter's World
Site map
Essays
Personal
February 2006
email
Hyde County, South Dakota is the Pin Tail Duck Capital of the world. Visit scenic Highmore, SD in 2006!