Saturday, July 11, 2009

On the Proper Length of a Blog Entry
By Nicholas Stix

The “blog”—the contraction of “Web” and “log”—is a type of technology. Some people project onto blogs and those who use them a mystical significance; others are contemptuous of both. The dependent variable is usually the political allegiances of the writer and the observer, respectively.

People who write using blogs are typically referred to as “bloggers.” Many people call me that; I’ve been called worse.

The primary virtue of a blog is ease of use. One does not need to know any HTML (hypertext markup language), in order to use a blog. But let’s not exaggerate the medium’s virtues. My first Web site, at bcity.com, also required no knowledge of HTML, and looked better than any html-free blog. Unfortunately, corporate parent CNET shut down bcity in 2001, in the wake of the dotcom bust.

Most “bloggers” write very brief entries about their personal lives. I’m not concerned with them, however, and virtually no one else is, either, but rather with political bloggers. Most political bloggers typically excerpt a news article or op-ed, adding a pithy observation or criticism, and often linking to an article of related interest. The value of the ensuing product is wholly dependent on the intelligence and judgment of the blogger in question.

However, some bloggers will devote several hundred or even thousands of words to a given piece. I submit that the term “column,” “essay,” or “article” is proper to such an exposition, even though it appears at a blog.

Some people are wed to a particular form, but it seems to me the value of a blog is that one can use it to publish works of all different lengths. The criterion should not be the word count, but whether the writer has said his piece.

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