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What is unique about blogs?

I’m at a stage in my research now where I’m trying to pin down the essence of blogs. In my quest to do this, I’ve been asking myself questions about how blogs as social software differ from other forms of social software. My first target, prompted by one of my supervisors is newsgroups. First, I decided to pull out some key aspects of newsgroups:

The usenet or newsgroups work in a bulletin board fashion whereby individuals post messages to a public space. The public space is divided into topics, and the topics are divided into threads. Anybody can post to the public space. Threads are started by a single post and are added to be replies to that post and resultant posts. Threads are therefore a representation of a conversation, and in this manner can have an potentially infinite length and an infinite number of tangents. In individual post is represented prima facie in the style of an email posts can, in fact, be sent by sending an email to a particular email address, identifying the relevant newsgroup topic address.

The exact way that the newsgroup space is represented is different according to the viewer that is used. A popular viewer is the web-based Google Groups. This allows searching of the newsgroup arena for keywords using the Google search engine, as well as browsing using the topics.

So how are weblogs different?

Although both technologies rely on publishing messages to a public space, the fundamental difference between weblogs and newsgroups is that weblogs link the public space to an individual rather than topic. All the posts in the public space are provided by the individual. This difference provides an important platform, not only for public speech, but also for self-representation and development, both tacitly and explicitly. Threads can still occur on weblogs by using comments, whereby a visitor can comment on a post forming a thread and thereby forming a conversation.


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