When can you label that blog a zine?

“I’ve decided to abandon completely the use of the terms “blogger” and “blog” to the extent it is possible. This comes after a not-so-scientific study done while wandering around the Pulse show a few weeks ago in New York.” – DLK Collection 

I’ve never found the terms blog and blogger to be accurate descriptions of the activities they’ve come to represent. I’d rather not go into a detailed history of blogs but as everyone knows they’re derived from the term ‘weblog‘ which in the early days was a simple platform for link sharing.  And then of course all the personal journaling entered the scene, along with legitimate writers using the platform for daily musings and dispatches.  I suppose the easiest way to classify all these activities was to simply call them blogs, and soon the easiest way to identify what you were doing on the web was to say that you had a ‘blog’ or were a ‘blogger.’  Because by that time, everyone knew essentially what that meant. 

I think the primary reason for the blog/blogger classification was to separate the professionals from the amateurs. Anyone can have a blog, but few people can write for the New York Times, so we needed someway to differentiate between the two.  And in the early days, most of the blogs out there were sloppy, poorly edited and rather mundane.  But what happened was that eventually intelligent people started to apply traditional publishing standards to their blogs.  Some creative self-starters with entrepreneurial zeal entered the game and changed our idea of what a blog could be.  We discovered that they could in fact be web publications or even media companies and in the case of Gawker, a mini-media empire. 

Yet, the blog nomenclature stuck. Why? Was it because we still didn’t fully understand this new form of publishing?  Did we need these terms in order to get our bearings and easily classify?

For me, it’s rather easy to understand if you simply erase the terms from you mind for a few seconds and think about what people are doing.  When you do that, of course it’s plainly obvious.  Bloggers are writers, editors and self-publishers.  They just happen to do it on the web.  Obvious, right? So why isn’t a blog called a zine or publication? Can we call a blog a zine? Or is the term zine reserved for a different type of web publishing? Something more structured and polished? 

My objective for this platform is to publish content that’s packaged and distributed in relatively easily digestible formats.  With the advent of Twitter, Tumblr and microblogging, it’s not really necessary to simply publish pithy comments or share links on this type of platform.  These types of platforms should be reserved for more polished content.  

The web needs editors and curators.  And what the web really needs are innovative editors and curators who are keen on reducing the noise while developing compelling content.  It’s a struggle and I know the arguments against Twitter and microblogging.  There will certainly be more debates and perhaps the tide will turn and everyone will reject the status updating microblogging culture.  But I doubt it, so what I’m really wondering is this:  Can I call this ‘space’ a zine and ditch that idiotic word BLOG?  I guess I’ll crowdsource this one…..

  • http://www.ianaleksanderadams.com Ian Aleksander Adams

    A (maga)zine is just as strange a truncated slang term with no good formal definition as a (we)blog is – sure we’ve arrived at a social consensus, to an extant, of what a zine is through usage, but it’s about the same with blogs.

    I don’t really care too much about the title. when I tell someone I put something up on my blog (which is a feed with no commercial or editorial interest on my website) they know what I mean.

    Since it’s the easiest way to continue telling people what I mean, I’ll continue using the term.

    People will get over their snobbishness about the medium soon enough (already there are blogs on almost every mainstream publication) and people are looking at “tweeting” as the new stupid internet word.

    I’m willing to bet that most younger people don’t have the same fears about the word “blog” and simply use it as any other word.

    Personally, I know a lot more bloggers that I have respect for than newspaper reporters. It’s just shifting the emphasis from the banner to the byline.

  • http://bryanformhals.com/ bryanf

    Exactly. So why didn’t it stick? And I guess fundamentally my question is whether there’s a difference between a web zine and blog?

  • http://twitter.com/richburroughs Rich

    We were calling them web zines way before they were called blogs, back in the 90s :)