It’s strange to be the first one to see what’s wrong in the world of weblogs and to see this global confusion that has been going on for years. Everyone is wrong and everything has to do with the goal of the weblog.
I just changed the definition on the Dutch version of Wikipedia to reflect what a weblog is, since no one gets it. (and it was removed by someone who still didnt understand it). It will answer the question which has been bugging Web loggers for years “why do I blog” and will explain why almost all weblog related portals are incorrect including Technorati and why everything will change soon.
There are two “weblogs”.
1. The first one is the weblog as media format, these are the websites that you can not describe simply as “weblog” but always in the context of what information they offer.
- A website which shows pieces of content called postings in revere order
- Every post has a title, sometimes a subtitle, a body of content and some metadata like a date and a trackback URL
- Tags, categories and other taxonomies are used to categorize the postings and provide sub portals
- Archives are generally available in monthly format to function as back reference
- Various extra’s like Feeds (RSS/Atom) and millions of plug-ins/widgets are available on
The website uses the media format “website” tot e.g. describe new gadgets, news on topic X or presents niche information on a specific domain. You can find these weblogs in the top 1000 in Technorati. Before the format was invented these websites could have existed, they would simply represent the information on gadgets, web2.0 news and so on, in a different way and would still be able to get their information across.
You can not simply describe these websites as “weblogs” since you always refer to “a site about gadgets” or “a site about apple”.
2. The second one is the weblog as website type. I will not define it here, but below, to not scare you off. You also know this one:
- It uses the same format as above, but can not exist without the specific format
- It displays postings related to all of the goals of one specific entity,
where goals can include “need to have hobby”, “need to have work”, “need to have life” and related subgoals such as “need to have hobby music”, which leads to a posting about buying a new cd. The postings cover the same goals-action money/time division as within the entity’s domain which is more than often a household.
- It has a wide range of different kind of content
- It has a wide range of different types of postings, where type can be: a link, a brainstorm, a hobby related postings, a job related posting, a budget related posting, an inspirational posting and so on.
Generally called “personal weblog about everything in that persons life”.
The reason that a weblog of the second kind is unique is that it really represents the thing it is and can not exist without the concept itself and is tied to that person’s life goals.
Why is this a new insight, it seems no new information?
A true weblog is something very very different that can not exist without being a weblog and which is something remarkably new. It is not a diary, it is something that could never have existed on paper. And the new insight only comes in these times now that
- weblog platforms are evolving with functionality
- integration between, basically all, software based systems take place including household software
We can only now see this because we are looking back from a point in the future to distinguish and identify the confusion.
For the “real webloggers” who seemed to be blogging about everything in a weird order, without focusing on niche or on a specific audience this means a new insight in the possibilities of their blog and the true meaning of what they were doing all these years. They were thinking they were doing a diary, something not really professional. But the contrary is true. Websites who took only the format of the weblog could have taken any format but basically stole only the outside thing, the representation. Which went ok during the stage that a true weblog more or less looked like nothing more than that representation and nearly random meaningless personal content. I can not find a good example in history of certain technology where the same happened but I will think of some for the next postings on the subject.
- Categorizing posts on tag or category is categorizing based on content is useless for that actor himself other than “finding” posts.
- The actor wrote the posts in the context of a deeper goal
- These goals are the same as the goals in that actors life, the same as the goals to which his budget is tied and the same underlying goals that govern how he or she spends his or her life.
- Posts are often related in terms of personal projects or activities
money – Person A needs to define his budget in different parts. A budget is only useful if you are going to use it. You use it to define how much money goes to what part in your budget based on your personal goals. E.g. if you have the goal in life to “have fun” then your sub goal might be “have hobby music”. Based on that indication you might decide that 5% of your income goes to music. E.g. one action might be “buy new CD of Barbra Streisand”.
But the same goal also causes that person to write about the new CD of Barbra Streisand or write about the concert of Barbra Streisand.
time – If you are a little mature (3 children, busy work life, much social life) then you are forced to discuss the little time you have left. You have set some personal goals on what to do with your time. Now you can fill in for yourself what your time, minute by minute on a day, gets spend on, and much of this time goes hand in hand with spending money one way or another.
These goals are the same behind the “why” you write on your blog about the time you spend on activity X e.g. doing groceries, cooking a meal, doing the garden, meeting someone interesting, spending Christmas with your family, fixing a pc and so on. You are willing to spend time on that activity and as an extra thing you spend some extra time within that same goal setting writing about the activity.
inspiration – Persons will find inspiration in things they find on the Internet and write about it or link it. The reason that they blog their inspiration is that this specific piece of inspiration is in line with one of their life’s goals or sub goals. They either use it to store it for the future or have as goal to spread these memes as they would without the weblog by talking to someone.
The goal behind blogging that inspiration is the same as the goal that person has set in life.
assets – Person A buys a new asset, wants to buy a new asset, does maintenance on an asset or is going to sell an asset. The lifecycle of an asset (either a house, a dog or an ipod) is part of the workflows within an household although never explicit mentioned or present.
The goal surrounding the lifecycle of the asset is the same as the “why” on writing postings on the lifecycle of that asset.
So what is a weblog really?
The ‘true’ weblog is an application that allows households (which can exist of 1) to explicitly mature their organization. It is a software application that was not there before.
What you will see in practice is that households will get more digital. They will get more advanced tooling. They will get access to more enterprise solutions and not only “lifehacks”. They will have internal household tooling and they will have external household tooling. Their workflows will get more supported over time. All of them. And many of these workflows cross the border between internal household systems and external household systems while all being governed against the same set of goals and sub goals of that household.
There is no question on the ownership of the term. The weblog always has went in this direction. The majority of weblogs has this direction. Intuitively all kinds of humans start to “weblog”. They feel the need for it do do so but they can not exactly pinpoint on why they are exactly doing it. They feel however that it improves their life. But since the regular household life is pretty chaotic compared to companies (where every minute and every dollar is accounted for “why”) they also take the step of web logging intuitively and without wanting to account for a why. The ironic thing is that weblogs are exactly these life extension tools which will give structure in the end.
A weblog is not a game. A weblog has functionality, a reason. But the functionality was pretty hidden until now. When “postings” will get their place in the overall workflows crossing boundaries between internal and external household affairs the view on weblogs is clear. A weblog is nothing more than version 0.4 of the external household portal.
The weblog, as the technology currently provides, has multiple postings and a header. This was seen by a lot of people as some kind of new media format. They were wrong. These postings are not general CMS kinds of content representations to do niche advertising on. These postings are, one by one, tied to the goals of the writer.
The reason this “thing” emerged is to allow persons to write down timely the events (etc..) in their life. Every one of these unique postings is tied to “something" of that person. As was exactly the same as with the classic diary.
The time and money a person spends in day is also tied to “something” of that person (both home, work and socially).
When you look within a company nobody spends time or money for “something”. It is always tied to a reason. And that reason is tied to a more general reason and at the end all reasons are tied to the mission statement of that company.
Companies spend much time and money on new projects or maintaining “things”. They also spend time and money on communication, facility management, IT, administration, R&D, magazine subscriptions, marketing, and so on.
A household has, until now, only:
- a simple sequential address book (maybe even in Plaxo or in PDA) where a company has a complete CRM solution including many possible relations between contacts and companies,
- a spreadsheet or some mediocre application to a budget in while a company has a complete financial top of the bill system integrated with their ERP system
- a simple agenda in paper or digital where a company has this same CRM solution integrated with many other Logistic Applications
- maybe a list of assets while a company has a complex Facility Management system managing every asset in the company including maintenance contracts, workflows and related
But in essence, micro organizations like households share the same process areas as companies. They both have income and expenses, they both have the same type of processes, they both have goals, although, up until now, a company more explicit than a household.
The singular items in a weblog are based on goals. These are the same goals as they govern everything else within the household. These goals are often very different than companies but the structure is the same as are the workflows behind it.
The next generation weblogs will make it explicitly and painfully clear
When you now take a look at the next generation weblogs they will enable this entanglement with these goals and will offer to enter types of postings. E.g. “information need”, “sell asset”, “inspiration”. These postings with a TYPE will form groupings in terms of projects (new things), maintenance (lifecycle management), etc… This is not new. These relations are already present within “the real weblogs”. The new wave of weblogs will only make it easier to make these relations more explicitly for individuals.
When you then categorize these groupings, in what once was an unordered chaos of postings it become clear that these groupings represent the workflows within a household. It touches time and money. It touches relations, life goals and all other aspects.
The next generation of weblogs will become the workflow management system of a household. Postings of a specific kind will have “fields” tied to that specific kind and variable to the specific workflow it is part of.
Example: The goal “hobby music” declares to buy a new CD. “buy new CD” becomes an entry in the workflow “buy stuff”. That passes states like “read reviews, determine cheapest place to buy, etc..”. It then gets an owner either you (by which you can view it via the view “todo list” on that workflow), or someone else (why which someone else can view it via the view “wish list” on that workflow). After you bought it or got it you pass phases like: listen to it, write review on it and, much later, possible sell it (after digitalizing it). In each of these phases a “posting” will represent that state of “buy CD”. Linked to it can be informational postings like reviews or information on where to buy CDs the cheapest.
All workflows within the household will get represented. All assets will get represented. The influence of decentralized social networks will make the weblog an external household portal probably tightly linked with an internal household portal. Both will have it’s function.
The term Weblogs has been confusing long enough. Either it is claimed for representing the media format by which it becomes meaningless or it is claimed to represent the external household portal.
The weblog will grow in more essential functional software for a household. It will not mean that it will evolve into software we currently know as existing within companies. Households and companies share common things but also are much different in many ways. That is why a different kind of application is needed. Which is what you currently see in embryo state.
The weblog currently acts as an enabler. A person who has crossed the boundary of a certain amount of postings will “look back”, analyze, categorize, improve, learn, use, point to and re-use. This is first tiny step to both awareness of improvement and opens the door for structure and a long road to maturity of households. We are currently facing the first groups of “personal” bloggers who are reaching this critical amount of blog postings which is why we need to make the first (tiny) next step supported by the weblog tool.