There are several different kinds of blogging. Three of the most prominent being personal blogging, filter blogging, and topic-driven blogging. Jill Walker Rettberg tells us about them in her book Blogging, and the first chapter alone was highly educational.
In a nutshell, personal blogging is similar to having a diary… the most obvious difference here being that it is a diary written for an audience. An example of this is a site I have followed for many years, created by author Sarah Dessen. While it would seem like her blog would be topic-driven or professional – and at times it can be – the posts do, for the most part, pertain to her personal life. She writes very informally about her daughter, her obsession for Good Morning America, her office remodel, etc. The design is simple, putting the focus entirely on what she is saying. A personal blog that is more well-known is that of Penelope Trunk, a mother and career woman. The design of her blog has far more effort, and though she writes about her daily life and expresses personal thoughts, the tone of her posts are more formal than that of Sarah’s. Then there’s Chris Guillebeau’s blog, which is more colorful and intricate than the others. He shares the details of his numerous travels around the world, and his tone is somehow a mix of the two. We hear his thoughts and feel close to him, but the style is still formal.
Filter blogging is drastically different from personal. In a way, these are sites dedicated to directing readers to other sites. An example of this is Bruce Schneier’s blog, who focuses mainly on aspects of security. But the posts of filter blogs don’t strictly have to pertain to a certain topic or even include links to other websites. They can simply include quotes, like InfoDesign. As long as the author records his or her finds and experiences online. And of course there must be mention of Boing Boing, which Rettberg herself pointed out in the first chapter of Blogging. This one doesn’t even have the voice of an author, simply icons to other sites to click on. Filter blogs seem to be consistent with their simple formatting. If there is a voice, they tend to be formal and focused on the findings being presented.
Then there is topic-driven blogging, which is exactly what it sounds like. Sites that are dedicated to mainly one aspect of life, whether it be a job, a hobby, an issue, etc. Naturally, I would first think of writing. I’ve followed Writer Unboxed since its inception and enjoyed countless posts on how to write a good book. The tone found on this page is always professional, and there’s quite a bit of effort put into the design of the site to lead readers toward certain topics they might be looking for. I also like to browse Saveur, an extremely popular cooking blog. It has so much to offer that the design can be overwhelming, at times. But the clean-cut selections and the professional aspects of the site help to soothe this feeling. Another example of a topic-driven blog is Pet Blog Lady, for all those animal lovers out there. Something that is different about this site is how much advertising is on the page. While this can be irritating and remove the focus from the posts themselves, the sheer volume and variety of pet-related articles continues to draw me back to it.
Besides the wild variety of what kinds of blogs there are to follow, another one of the main lures of having one is the ability to comment on posts. Some blogs make a clear attempt to shape discussion towards an aim or even using a discussion to drive an aim. These discussions can be on mournful issues like suicide, prompting serious and controversial discussions, or they can be an angry, negative review of a company, causing other customers or businesses to chime in defensively, sympathetically, or professionally. There are so many possibilities. Whatever the reason, blogs are a space to not only read opinions, but voice one of your own.
But what is a weblog, exactly? So far Rettberg has explored the focus and aspects of one. Is it the structure and design of the site itself? The presence of a discussion? The appearance of titles and posts? The blog for Harvard Law seems to believe it’s as simple as “a hierarchy of text, images, media objects and data, arranged chronologically, that can be viewed in an HTML browser”. Debbie Brixey of Digital Unite claims it’s “basically an online diary or journal created by someone to record in writing their thoughts, feelings or views on a specific subject or on life in general”.
Everyone seems to have a different opinion. And that’s the beautiful thing about blogs, whatever you think the meaning entails… it’s a place to share that opinion.