On being improper

Aquarion dissects a “You know you’re a ‘proper’ weblogger when…” list in his thoughts on what it is to be a Proper Person. Interestingly, the question about moving from Blogger to Movable Type completely threw me, because pretty much all the other questions apply, in my opinion, to the “BlogSpot” sort of weblogger rather than the “Movable Type” sort of weblogger.

At this point, you might be either puzzled as to the distinction, or getting angry in anticipation of me saying something narrow-minded and blinkered. Alternatively, none of the above.

You see, I’d almost define what I’ve called a “BlogSpot”-type weblog as one which is full of cliquey in-jokes and “What type of fruit smoothie are you” tests and posts about award ceremonies for weblogging and one where the concept of a “”BlogMeet” rates a capital letter. I mean, obviously there are exceptions, and plenty of them. If your knee is jerking in fury at this point, you’re probably an exception. But it’s a style of weblog that I see much less from people who set up their own weblogging system, whether it’s MT or pMachine or b2 or whatever.

Naturally, however, I’m biased — no-one comes to a discussion of how people are categorised without bias — because most of what I write about is incomprehensible technical stuff. This gives me righteous armour — I’m writing about things that I think might improve the way the net works, not just whether my dog was ill this morning or not. Straw men make such good targets.

Moreover, one thing that always resonates in my head when I make accusations from my lofty pedestal of being a “tech-weblogger” is something that Neal Stephenson wrote in Snow Crash, about sexism:

It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.

Yeah, that’s probably true of a lot of -isms for me, including Blogger-ism. Maybe the divide is really between “things I like reading” and “things I do not”. However, if ever you find a weblog that you think’s interesting, and then you are surprised to see that it is administered through Blogger or that it comes from a BlogSpot URL, then you have the same divide in your head as I do.

Aquarion says, ‘If that’s what makes a “proper” weblog, then I think I’ll stay improper, thanks.’ I think that that list is what makes a proper blog, not a proper weblog, which is why I don’t like the word “blog”. It conjures up, for me, images of all the things I mentioned above; online tests, meaningless cliquey references, the works, which is why I don’t have a blog, and why I was pleased to see that the latest version of Movable Type changed all references to “blogs” back to “weblogs” in their documentation and code. I wonder why that was, if not for misgivings like mine?

Maybe you agree. Maybe you disagree. Alternatively, none of the above. But if you were just about to gleefully point out all the times I’ve violated my own set of opinions above, ask yourself if hypocrisy is really the worst sin you can think of. Compare and contrast “by their fruits shall ye know them” with “it’s the thought that counts” and work out on which side of the fence you stand.

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