Chris Garrett wrote in ‘Why Blogging is Not About Technology‘ that instead of focusing on technology we should focus on people. Kevin added in the comments that blogging is about sharing information and Lorelle VanFossen added that blogging is about (reader) interaction. An important blogging technology that enables us to share our information is the site feed. While the practice of blogging is not about technology the blogosphere heavily depends on this technology.
While we are still struggling with blogging definitions Google has clearly defined for itself what a blog is, by the means of technology:
The goal of Blog Search is to include every blog that publishes a site feed (either RSS or Atom). It is not restricted to Blogger blogs, or blogs from any other service.
Blog Search indexes blogs by their site feeds, which will be checked frequently for new content. This means that Blog Search results for a given blog will update with new content much faster than standard web searches. Also, because of the structured data within site feeds, it is possible to find precise posts and date ranges with much greater accuracy. (About Google Blog Search)
Google does not offer a definition of a blog but instead defines a blog through the means of technology: a blog is a site that publishes a site feed. If your blog does not send out a RSS or Atom feed it will not be listed in Google Blog Search.
Technorati does offer a definition of a blog namely “A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web.” Only three years ago Technorati answered the question of what a blog is with:
We don’t have an official definition,” says a spokesperson for Technorati, the blog tracking service. “It’s something that’s created with blog software. I don’t know how to answer that question. We don’t get that question. (Conniff)
Interestingly enough Technorati does not reveal which criteria they use to index blogs, except for ‘registering’ your blog:
Registering your site with Technorati can help you ensure that your updates, new entries, and content are indexed efficiently and with priority by Technorati’s search technology. (Technorati Help: FAQ)
Blog search and indexing engines seem to define blogs by technology while bloggers prefer to define blogs by practice. What is particularly interesting is that the blogosphere is defined by technology. While bloggers ‘make’ and ‘shape’ the blogosphere through the social practice of writing, linking and commenting the blog engines define the blogosphere through technology.
I think this is one of the major problems that makes it so hard to define blogging.
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.