What is a Blog?

Michael Conniff has an extensive and historical treatment of the question “what is a blog?” in the Online Journalism Review. I highly recommend the article for those interested in meta-blogging.
I’m actually more interested in blogging than blogging about blogging, but this article is a good one and it raises a question that invariably comes up when I do interviews and presentations on blogging.
Here’s my best answer:
A blog is an online newspaper or magazine column without the newspaper or magazine.
I think that captures the notion of self-publishing, regularity, informal tone, personality, educational and helpful content, and observational elements I associate with blogs. It also recognizes that posts are short essays and that blogging is a writer’s medium. I’ve found that people really like this definition and find it helpful.
However, that definition is primarily a conceptual definition. Other people like a more technical definition, and I’ve struggled with that.
Here’s my current technical definition of a blog I’ve used in presentations:
A blog is a form of a website that is produced by easy-to-use content management or “blogging” software that uses templates and is characterized by certain common elements, including one or more of the following: display of content in the form of individual “posts,” reverse chronological entries, RSS feeds, archives, comments and other common features you will observe after looking at a few blogs.
Most recently, I explained blogs (and from the feedback was quite successful) to a group of people, 90% of whom did not read blogs, by showing them the Between Lawyers blog, pointing out the main elements and then moving to each of the individual blogs of my colleagues at Between Lawyers and showing the presence of the common elements. Show rather than tell.
Of the identifying elements of a blog, I think that the use of individual posts and display in a reverse chronological order are the common features that most help people identify what a blog is.
That said, I use my “definitions” as devices to help people learn about blogs and their usefulness. I can’t stand when people use proscriptive definitions of blogs, charge that blogs are really not blogs, or launch into a tirade on what “true blogs” are.
Now, back to the OJR article. I think you understand the perspectives I bring to this issues.
I found this article interesting in light of my recent efforts to come up with definitions I can use in presentations. However, it didn’t help me improve my definitions or come up with a simple, concise definition I might use in presentations.
In part, that’s the beauty of blogs. Blogging has let a thousand flowers bloom. I want to read great blogs – I frankly don’t care whether the definitionists out there deem what I consider a great blog to be a “blog.”
As you read through the article, you’ll notice the quoted bloggers are all over the place and even contradict each other. Jason Calcanis focuses on unedited, unfiltered content as being a key trait of a blog. Wonkette describes herself as an editor of her blog. Are we seriously suggesting that Wonkette isn’t a blog?
I must admit that I got a laugh, as usual, out of Jason’s definition of blogs, and, by implication, what blogs his definitions would exclude. I might be able to simplify his definition – a blog is any blog that has the features of a property of the Weblogs, Inc. network. I mean, we all bring our own points of view into the discussion, but gee whiz, Jason, you might want to be a bit more subtle and a lot more expansive.
If a blogger turns off comments because of comment spam problems, have they suddenly lost the right to call what they are doing a blog? Are the people experimenting with orders other than reverse chronological order no longer creating blogs? Is a blog in which someone other than the author proofreads or edits post not a blog? I’m not sure why we really care about turning definition into dogma, unless our purpose is to become a gatekeeper and decide who is in the cllub and who is not. That’s not part of the tradition of blogging and it would be sad to see that kind of an exclusionary tradition get started.
In any event, the article is a great resource for learning about the doctrinal arguments over blog definitions. I don’t understand how any of this discussion helps bring blogs to a wider audience, which is my interest in developing definitions.
In the meantime, I’ll go back to writing my blog, or at least what I think is a blog, and, if the definitionists ever agree on what a “blog” is (and I doubt that will happen), I’ll consider the definition and what I need to do to fit into it. And, then, as is the common trait of bloggers, I’ll do whatever I want and what makes the most sense for this blog. If that means I won’t get a blog membership card, then so be it.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog)]
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Desirable Traits in a CIO

Every now and then, I think it would be great to be a CIO, in part because the title seems so cool. As a CIO, you get invited to great conferences for “C level” executives. And you get a great magazine – CIO magazine, one of my favorite magazines
Speaking of CIO magazine and CIOs, CIO Insight has a great article on desirable traits in a CIO. Now, you will need to get past the inflammatory title (“Does it Take a Psychopath to Make a Good CIO?”) and read the substance of the article, because the article really answers the question posed by the title with a “no.”
If you are a CIO, are a firm with a CIO or are a firm thinking about hiring a CIO (hmmm, I think that may cover everyone), this article will give you a way to think about the CIO position in your firm or organization.
Here are the money quotes:
“CIOs tend to love technology,” said Berg. “But not in the same way as programmers or system administrators, who gravitate toward technology because they think it’s cool. CIOs are much more interested in what technology can do for a company than simply what it can do, period. That’s an important distinction in terms of personality.”
and
The good ones have a balanced view of people, process and technology. They care about how the company meets its goals while embracing technology. They have to be emotionally invested to do that.”
These quotes strike me as right on target.
So, now I’m back in the wanting-to-be-a-CIO mode. But I think that really means I want to be a part-time CIO or a CIO splitting time between several firms or organizations.
I’m thinking about putting together a package of consulting services that does exactly that. I’d welcome any comments and suggestions from readers to help me think that through and put that package together.
If you wanted to get a package of services that approximated what a CIO might do for you, what would that package include? I’ll share the ideas I receive.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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LawyerLinks – A Legal Research Tool That’s Simple in the Best Sense of the Word

Eric Korb of LawyerLinks gave me the grand tour of the LawyerLinks corporate legal research tool recently and I was quite impressed.
While many people believe that I’m interested only in the newest, coolest, most cutting-edge technology, the truth is that I’m most interested in technologies that are simple, easy to use and help me accomplish things better. When that happens with cool, new technology (the leading example today is the whole are known as Web 2.0), it’s a bonus for me.
So, a few minutes into the demo of LawyerLinks, I’m really digging the service and asking tons of questions and saying “that’s right” and “that’s cool.” It was cool because it was simple.
And, it’s a simple idea. Imagine the ideal “encyclopedia” for your area of law practice. It would be fully hyperlinked, updated by knowledgeable lawyers, organized by people who understand the practice and easy to move through. IN my case, I also want to get away from the Boolean search stuff and be able to move through the material in a logical, structured way.
Hey, that’s what LawyerLinks is. It’s simple, yet profoundly useful. It brings me back to the orignal idea of hyperlinks.
The best part is that you can immediately see how this would be helpful to you, especially for quick overviews of subject matter areas. You might get a question from a client. While on the phone, you quickly pull up an overview so you can “refresh your memory” on the topic. You also have the ability to move seamlessly to news, source material and cases. You are instantly knowledgeable (not that you weren’t before, of course – you are just a little smoother now).
Now, flip the scenario. You are an inhouse corporate counsel or even a business executive and you want to get some background before you talk to an outside lawyer. Boom, you’re there.
For those law firms looking to make more effective use of library budgets (my advice: give the librarian a raise and better tools and cut costs on books), LawyerLinks would be a great tool to reduce the need for some of the books taking up space in your library. If you are starting a new firm, well, this might be an easy decision.
LawyerLinks focuses on securities and corporate law topics only at this time. That’s too bad for those of us not in those areas, but it’s great news for those of you in these areas.
Check it out.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

Announcing a “Do Not Disturb” Sign for November 15

From the press release:
Columbia Records will release the ‘Born To Run 30th Anniversary Edition’ box set on November 15. Personally supervised by Bruce Springsteen and Jon Landau, the box set includes “Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75,” an astonishing film of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s legendary 1975 concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London; the new film “Wings For Wheels: The Making of Born To Run;” the classic album in remastered CD form; and finally, a 48 page booklet of previously unpublished photographs. With its two DVDs, the package offers approximately four hours of previously unseen footage.
Courtesy of my friend Jim McKelly, who monitors these things for me when he’s not winning bushel baskets of teaching awards. Perhaps it will be a good day to try a first listening/watching party via Skype chat?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).

“By Request” – What are Your Favorite Blawgs?

There are so many good ones that I hate to make a list because I’ll later be kicking myself for leaving a great one out. My 2004 Blawggies award list is still a good starting point.
Your question, however, raises a subject I’ve been thinking about lately. And that is that there are some extremely good writers among the legal bloggers.
Lawyers are usually thought of as writers of, well, legalese. Lawyer bloggers have done a lot to overcome that stereotype. In some cases, some blawg writers have become such good writers than I enjoy them and recommend them for both the writing and the content.
I just want to highlight a few people and do not intend for this to be a comprehensive list.
I want to point first to my colleagues at the Between Lawyers blog. I’ve become very familiar with their writing both in their blogs and the amazing back-channel email list we have going.
Consider the following:
Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svenson – Ernie’s posts have long been a pleasure to read, but if you have any question about Ernie’s greatt talent as a writer, you need only take a look at a few of his post-Katrina posts. His post on his first return to New Orleans is a gem – touching and determined. Here’s some free advice to book publishers: get Ernie signed up to write a book about his Katrina experiences!
Tom “Inter-Alia” Mighell – Tom has become my favorite person to write with and we’re now writing two columns together. Tom has a gift for writting short, direct posts that you might take for granted unless you try to write in that way on a regular basis. I often say that I write long posts because it is so hard to write the types of short posts that Tom does so well.
Marty “The Trademark Blog” Schwimmer – Marty is the master of the short, concise, clever and witty post, with a clear and cogent point. Concise, that is, except when he gets going on “political” issues. Read a selection of his trademark posts and I guarantee that you will be impressed.
Denise “Bag and Baggage” Howell – First of all, Denise is known as the absolute master of writing great titles for posts. Another legal blogger told me the other day that Denise’s titles are so great that he gets hooked into reading posts where he’s not even interested in the topic. Denise has such a great, comfortable writing style. The other day, though, she wrote a post called “NorCal” that I really, really liked, in a great new voice that reminded me of William Gibson, the cyberpunk novelist, who is one of my favorite authors. I’ve been bugging Denise to write a novel called “NorCal” in that same style.
If you took a vote among long-time legal bloggers on who the best writers among legal bloggers are, there’s no question that Sherry “Stay of Execution” Fowler and Evan “Legal Underground” Schaeffer would be at the top of the list.
Evan is such a strong, accomplished writer. He can write in a number of styles and, amazingly for a lawyer, has even made me laugh out loud (intentionally). His blog is a daily must-read and, as I’ve said before, he is the legal blogger most likely to be paid for writing movie and TV scripts in the near future.
You need only read a few of Sherry’s post before you realize that you are in the presence of a gifted writer. I’ve long enjoyed Sherry’s blog for both her insights and her talent as a writer. Of all the legal bloggers, Sherry has had the most influence on me as a writer (Marty’s efforts to get me to be more concise have not had his desired impact), and on other legal bloggers as well. Several years ago, we started calling Sherry the bravest legal blogger because of her willingness to write in a direct and personal manner in ways that others of us were very reluctant to do. I admired that greatly and it gradually inspired me to be willing to experiment with some more personal topics and styles. With Sherry, I always come back to how much I enjoy reading her writing and appreciating her talent. I’m so pleased that she’s going to devote herself to her writing and encourage publishers looking for a new star to take a good look at what Sherry is writing.
Ah, another long post, but that will give you some of my thoughts on the subject of legal bloggers who are excellent writers.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.