Alexei’s Stream of Consciousness

Laura and I were discussing this evening what the word “weblog” means. It turns out we think different things, and it also turns out I may be wrong. Which means maybe I need to rename this site. I found this article on Diarist.Net (their server sends the wrong media type, so unless you’re using Internet Explorer, you’ll get the source instead of viewing the page. IE is wrong, by the way) that tries to make a distinction between weblogs and online journals. It doesn’t exactly cover our discussion, but it’s close enough for government work.

I use “weblog” to refer to a vast array of different kinds of Web pages, related really only in the sense that they contain information that is updated or amended on a regular basis, and my definition would include most online journals, including ones that Laura thinks aren’t weblogs (and that, in fact, predate the term). Looking over definitions on the Web, it looks like a lot of people would rather use the term to refer only to short (“pithy”) comments presented on a single Web page in a stream of dated entries. Some would like it to refer mainly to entries that focus on the Web; e.g., links to other Web sites with occasional commentary. The latter usage appears to be what the word was originally coined for. Personally, although I frequented plenty of sites by the late ’90s that epitomized that idea, I never actually encountered the word “weblog” itself until relatively recently, and I arrived at my definition by looking at the sites I knew that used it, and I generalized it, extending the term to include the online journals of the sort I had been reading for years, like Mike’s, which I read back in high school.

To me, it seems like the term should cover a more inclusive range of sites. I guess I want “weblog” to mean “a log on the Web”, and not “a log of the Web”, which is the apparent true etymology. Maybe I watched too much Star Trek as a kid (and by “kid”, I’m including the Enterprise I watched last week), but I think of “weblog” and I think of something like the Captain’s Log, which included everything from reports on the ship’s status and mission to digressions on personal issues. In the Trek movies, Kirk repeatedly uses his log to rant about Klingons, and this doesn’t seem out of place. I’m not sure what this has to do with weblogs anymore, but it made sense when I started this paragraph.

I guess what I’m getting at is that If I want to write mostly about myself or my life, or to write multiple paragraphs instead of short “sound bites”, certainly I’d hope no one is going to stop me. But I’ve already named this site “Alexei’s Weblog”, which I am now worried pigeonholes the site into a framework I didn’t intend, and prejudices the reader against the sort of log I do intend on keeping.