f/k/a . . . the archives

December 6, 2008

Arianna, a “blog post” is not a “blog”

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,Procrastination Punditry — David Giacalone @ 11:05 am


. . . another pet peeve . . .

It’s bad enough that the f/k/a Gang lost our fight to ban the word “blog” as a substitute for “weblog,” as well as the battle to keep that ugly little word from being used as a verb.  Having no quioxtic need to smack our heads against walls or windmills, we’ve stop campaigning against the use of the term “blog” in those contexts, and have merely settled for avoiding it in our own writing as much as possible.  But, we’ve noticed lately that the sad, tiny verbal mutation is being utilized more and more by people who are talking about a “post” or “posting” or “blurb” or “piece” or “article” or “column” that has been written and put up ["posted"] on a weblog.

A high-profile example of that linguistic malpractice and “verbal abuse” two nights ago, by the omnipresent and nearly omnipotent Queen of Bloggers Herself, has provoked today’s plea that the practice be ended now. To wit:

On December 4, 2008, Charlie Rose interviewed Arianna Huffington, in conjunction with her new book “The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging” (Simon & Schuster, by The editors of the Huffington Post, December 2, 2008, Paperback).  Although I always find Arianna Huffington‘s visits on Charlie’s show and at other television forums interesting, I have no idea who will find her slim volume on blogging worth the time or the asking price. (It is, in fact, doubled in size to its 240 pages by quite a few fattening appendices of slight value to the weblog neophyte.)  Nonetheless, she is looked to as an authority on “blogging” and thought of as a wordsmith.  So, I was annoyed to hear Ms. Huffington, more than once, using “blog” as a noun meaning the individual piece of writing that is posted in reverse chronological order, with its own permalink, and set of reader comments, on a weblog.

For example, when Charlie asked Arianna to explain what a link is, she replied “it means that I’ll write a blog — I wrote a blog about the book” and used a hyperlink . . . . .

That is simply not an acceptable use of the word “blog.”  For example, people using printing presses did not say they were producing a “press” instead of a book, article or pamphlet (and thankfully never said they were “pressing” when producing their product).  Likewise, a story or piece appearing in a newspaper is called an article, not a newspaper; and an entertainment or news episode appearing on a television is called a show, not a tv.   Turning “blog” into a synecdoche meaning any part of a weblog is a confusing and grating verbal practice.  And, we respectfully ask Arianna — especially as a leading advocate for bloggging — to stop doing it.

The Glossary in “The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging” correctly offers these definitions, which suggest the writers can distinquish a blog from a post:

blogger — someone who writes blog posts.

blogging – writing a blog post.

But, it gives this rather ambiguous definition of the word “blog,” which could indeed be talking about a blog post, and which could use some editing:

blog –  derived from the term “web-log”: regularly updated account of events on a website, commonly listed in reverse chronological order.

Enough said (and enough time spent putting off further writing on excessive legal fees).  I’ll leave you with a true anecdote about the pervasiveness of the word “blog”, which happened less than 12 hours after hearing Arianna on the Charlie Rose Show:

While explaining to a group of strangers that I’ve spent quite a bit of my time the past few years working on my weblogs, a young women asked “what’s that, does that have something to do with a website?”   When I replied that a weblog is a blog, she indicated she now understood, but said — and the others in attendance seemed to agree — that she had no idea the word blog was derived from “web-log.”

Naturally, I then threw in a short version of my sermon against the word “blog”, saying that I try to stay with “weblog” as much as possible.  I added, of course, that Peter Merholz [who first created the term "blog" by shifting the syllabic break in "web-log" to "we-blog"] said he was just being silly and liked the fact that “it’s roughly onomatopoeic of vomiting.”

If you are a regular reader wondering where the haiku is today, here are a few before I go, starting with Ed Markowski and then a trio from the newest issue of The Heron’s Nest:

cobwebs sway
where the mistletoe hung…
lent begins

….. by ed markowski

jasmine in bloom —
termites swarm
from their nest

stump speech —
this black and white butterfly
in none of the field guides

…. by Carolyn Hall – The Heron’s Nest (Vol. X, No. 4, December 2008)

a still, starry night —
train tracks
wet with dew

…. by Michael Dylan Welch – The Heron’s Nest (Vol. X, No. 4, December 2008)

breakfast alone
except for that cricket
behind the fridge

… by David Giacalone – The Heron’s Nest (Vol. X, No. 4, December 2008)

2 Comments

  1. Oh thank you. I’ve been meaning to write about this for weeks now. A blog is not a post. A blog is a blog. A blog contains many “posts”.

    I can “blog”, which means I am blogging, which means I am in the act of writing a post or I am the author of a blog, which act is also called “blogging”.

    This interchangeability of terms irks me.

    Comment by Gideon — December 6, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  2. Thanks for commenting, Gideon. It’s good to know that an adult with literary talent and blogospheric stature agrees with me.

    Comment by David Giacalone — December 6, 2008 @ 11:25 am

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