At the Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference last month, I was struck by the repeated use of the short-hand definition of a blog, as an "online journal." I think Ethan Zuckerman offered another easy-to-use definition when he showed up at the ABS-CBN News Channel for the interview with Manolo Quezon, but — in what is surely a sign of premature senility — I missed it.
At any rate, the "online journal" definition got me thinking. It also made me look up a neat little book by Thomas Mallon called A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries. (I bought a copy, on sale, a year ago this month.) I distinctly remember the Time book review in 1984, in large part because it listed the seven categories Mallon used to classify the hundreds of diaries and journals he had read. I even remember writing the list down, in one of those blue Corona spiral notebooks I kept in college: chroniclers, travelers, pilgrims, creators, apologists, confessors, and prisoners.
"Some are chroniclers of the everyday. Some have used their books to record journeys; plan the art of the future; confess the sins of the flesh; lecture the world from the grave. And some of them, prisoners and invalids, have used them not so much to record lives as create them, their diaries being the only world in which they could fully live."
(Of course, Mallon did not make the reductionist mistake of force-fitting diaries or journals into only one category. Surely the impulse to write varies every now and then.)
So, what kind of blog do you keep?