What is a blog: trying to bridge the generation gap

It is becoming more and more apparent to me, as I talk to people from the pre-blog generation, that there’s a bit of a genre problem when it comes to blogs, and what they are. For me this means I need to tread a little more carefully, lest I say something, under my own brand/name/banner that’ll come back to bite me. This post is going to become part of my disclaimer. Have you read it? You should. Because at some point if you’re going to engage with a text (and blogs are texts) you should be doing it on its terms as well as your own. Context is king.

But there is a lesson here for non-bloggers too – the onus isn’t entirely on the blogger to take people who don’t understand blogs into account. We have to consider such an audience, but we’re not writing to that audience as a primary audience.

Blogs are, by nature, opinionated, personal, and sometimes controversial. They are, by nature, quickly produced, biased, and not peer-reviewed. The more people fail to take this into account the harder life will be for bloggers.

But, on the blogger side of the fence, posts are permanent, googlable, searchable on RSS feeds and site searches, and available to the public.

If we want people to stay accountable about what they write (ie write under their own names), and we want to read what they write, then we need to not hold words that in the past would have been quickly forgotten against people. Or, at least, we need to make some attempt at understanding the genre before we impose our own anachronistic cultural readings on a situation.

Nothing I’ve said has come back to haunt me yet (except maybe one time where I mouthed off a bit about why a particular ministry wasn’t for me). I’ve been pretty careful with what I’ve said, and I’d stand behind it. But that doesn’t mean words can’t be twisted, misunderstood and abused – and at some point, the onus is on the reader not to do that.

That is all.


Richard says:

Well said.

cafedave says:

Time to take the “no ads” bit out of the disclaimer, I think.

Nathan says:

True. Though these aren’t ads so much as affiliate things where I make money if people buy stuff. I need to figure out what the difference is. And how to express why I think it is different. But good call.

Nathan Campbell says:

I think I’ve figured out why I haven’t changed that bit yet. I’m yet to make a dollar from Amazon links – so at the moment they’re just things I link to in my sidebar… I have made a slight change to the disclaimer though.