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Blogtalk Downunder » The specificity of blogging

Blogtalk Downunder
   May 19-22, Sydney

Blogtalk Downunder

The specificity of blogging

It is reasonable to approach the definition of blogs from two different views. One is, perhaps, formalist in its concentration on the technical or technological aspects and qualities of blogging. The other is more literary or otherwise post-something theoretical in its orientation as it emphasises the textual or writerly nature of blogs.

In the first instance, blogs tend to be defined by such features as the use of a Content Management System (CMS), and the presence of the specific formal features that blogs have developed as a genre. For example to consist of multiple posts which have a heading and time and date stamp, the presence of permalinks, blogroll, and support for comments and trackback. Several of these terms are neologisms that have developed in response to the need to define a blog nomenclature, that is they’re quite specific to blogs, and each in quite specific ways have helped to determine what a blog actually is.

The second approach accepts the presence of these technical aspects of blogging, but generally treats these as secondary to the primary qualities of blogs. This is much like a discussion that may wish to conceive of defining the novel (for example) where the material or technical elements of the medium, for example that it traditionally consists of printed marks on serially bound and numbered paper that is collected between two covers, is regarded as of less significance than the fact that novels are fictional, authored, and have a specific narrative structure. Such an approach, for example, is what we would ordinarily understand literary theory to be, which has of course produced numerous sophisticated, and valuable approaches and methodologies.

In blog theory this approach tends to concentrate on blogging as primarily a textual problem. This may be extremely broad ranging, and participates in a long tradition of textual or theoretical scholarship that continues the Platonic reification of print where the materiality and technical apparatus of the medium is considered secondary to its behaviour as discourse. However, it is clear that blogging as a medium has, like other media, developed via a sophisticated series of exchanges between the constraints and affordances of enabling technologies and the intersections of individual and collective desire.

note: This page forms a part of a hypertext essay by Adrian Miles. The homepage for this essay is located at:
A long version of this paper (containing some but not all of the text contained in the hypertext version) is available at:

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