|by Flemming Funch|
Blogging is a bit too much like publishing. I mean, writing articles to be published.
Of course different people use the medium differently. Some people still just write about what their dog had for breakfast. But, with few exceptions, the blogs that are interesting to read consist more or less of articles that people write.
But that makes it less fun and useful to write. Writing an article is for me connected with deadlines and trying to match the expectations of the audience. Where I'd rather write a weblog for me, and then maybe share it with others as a second thought.
So, what happened to the idea of "log" or "logging"?
See, a log is really something more directed. One might keep a log if one is working on something. A record of one's progress, one's discoveries.
Like, a learning log, or a research log. One is working on finding something out, solving certain problems, arriving at certain goals. And one keeps a record, which charts the path, maybe for others to learn from too.
That's not how I use a weblog. I'd like it to be. But that would require a re-framing.
In that case one would set a theme or a goal. It is quite possible that the process would have an end, as one either reaches the goal, or one no longer is interested in the subject. So, one would open up new logs, keep them going as one is continuing exploring the subject matter, and one closes them when one is done.
That doesn't work so well with the way we currently use blogs. I'd expect a person to have preferrably one blog, which I can subscribe to in my blog aggregator. If they have several, it is a little annoying, and if they close them down and start new ones, it would be more annoying.
Regular blogs have categories or tags. Which of course can be used for particular threads. But typically one tries to subscribe to everything one person is blogging, and you might get a mix of postings on very different postings. Which is why most blog owners feel obliged to keep a certain uniform atmosphere in all the postings, as if it were a magazine, with a certain style and theme.
But, say I wanted to log several different of my interests and activities. Like me right now, I'm interested in photography, rollerskating, genealogy, Ruby on Rails programming, plus a whole bunch of other things I'd be more likely to write about on my blog. But, say I wanted to have a log of my experiences as a novice photographer. There are lots of blogs like that, where people share their photos, talk about their equipment, etc. Just like there are lots of blogs about genealogy, where people talk about their research, resources they find, etc. But if I mixed all of that together, it might not be fun for readers who aren't interested in those things, who just want to see me write about alternate dimensions or new civilizations or something. So, would I have a different blog for each? That would be quite feasible, if they were ongoing interests. Less so if they were more short lived. I don't think it is very comfortable to maintain several separate blogs, though.
From the user perspective, the author, the logger, me, I'd really want just one interface for an assortment of logging subjects. I wouldn't want to log into a different account for each one. Rather, one interface where I freely can add new subjects, and add log entries for any of them. Some of those subjects would be just for me, others I would choose to share, and maybe make public.
Of course, those logs that one chose to make public could be channeled into what appeared as different blogs for the rest of the world. But I wouldn't experience it like that. I'd just log stuff in my logging application.
And it would open the door to a different way of presenting or interacting with such logs. I mean, if each one logs the evolution certain subject, which maybe now is done, I'd like better ways of dealing with that sequence of events as a whole. It wouldn't just be an abandoned blog, but simply the log of a finished project.
People do put stuff like that on their blogs, but it might be hidden between lots of other things. A log of remodeling my garage is a perfectly valid and complete project. Doesn't have to either hide between posts about totally different things, or be a very short lived and abandoned blog.
If one keeps a log of actually going somewhere, trying to accomplish something, it also invites additional functionality to give the full picture. A project or a quest isn't just a series of equally important log entries. Some things will be more important than others. There will be key discoveries, reevaluation of priorities, ups and downs, a growing body of knowledge.
As one example, one might have a wiki-like area, functioning in parallel with the log, in which one puts the more permanent record of what one has learned or accomplished, the subject matter of the log. And maybe its versions would be synchronized with the log, so that one could see the evolution of the more permanent part. At the point of that particular log entry, how did the list of links look? How did it look the week after that?
It ties in with a project I'd like to do, but which I haven't carved out enough time for yet, which is to structure environments for particular purposes. Dynamic webpages that are structured so as to support what one is trying to do. A brainstorm takes a different structure and different tools than does a research project or the process of starting a new company. Each one involves some combination of logs, notes, permanent records, links, lists, outlines, ordering, sequencing, randomity, and more. If you don't use an environment that supports what you want to do, it doesn't work so well. A blog or a wiki or a forum do different things and inspire different kinds of behavior. The right constellation of interdependent tools can accomplish something more precise in a more appropriate manner.
This post here could be said to be a log entry in the project of building such things. But putting it right here doesn't help me much in keeping a record of my progress.