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April 3, 2002

Category errors Henry Copeland makes the pertinent point about the Alex Beams of the world:
I think most columnists lack the experiences and conceptual categories to understand “the blog.” Like a one-year-old baby grappling with the idea of other beings, the average newspaperman scribbling about bloggers can describe “the other” only as an ersatz version of himself.
Discussing the tendency to dismiss blogging for its chatty sociability, Copeland quotes this piece by Andrew Odlyzko, discussing the early days of the telephone:
Sociability was frequently dismissed as idle gossip, and especially in the early days of the telephone, was actively discouraged. For example, a 1909 study of telephone service commissioned by the city of Chicago advocated measured rate service as a way to reduce “useless calls.” Yet the most successful communication technologies, the mail and the telephone, reached their full potential only when they embraced sociability and those “useless calls” as their goal.
What both Copeland and Odlyzko are getting at is that this is a social medium, not a plinth for Content. Like those city officials who couldn’t grasp that the telephone was important despite the fact that users rarely used it for oratory of lasting value, some print-media critics of blogging can’t get their minds around the idea that blogs aren’t wannabe newspapers, but something else. Both Copeland’s and Odlyzko’s pieces are worth reading in their entireties. [05:01 PM]
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