“In these kinds of discussions, the question, “Are weblogs journalism?” inevitably comes up, demonstrating how people confuse form and content. Weblogs are a form (not a medium… the Web is a medium), and journalism is a practice. Journalism can be practiced in many media and forms. The two are, at best orthogonal. One definitely doesn’t replace the other.”
Xian goes on to add some well-considered comments about how journos and bloggers aren’t necessarily at odds — in fact, bloggers add to the media “soup” or “compost” from which journos draw their stories, a fact that’s not often acknowledged by journalists.
But, the notion of form vs. medium got me thinking. Just to clarify the terms: A practice is something you do, probably requiring some training, a standard of professionalism, and code of ethics (journalism, medicine, or construction). A medium is a vehicle through which information is transmitted and displayed (broadcast television, HTTP/HTML, newspapers). And a form is a stylistic genre, a way of organizing and presenting information or stories (haiku, sonnets, novels, magazine stories, weblogs).
So far, there’s not really a “practice” of blogging in any coherent sense, though I suppose one could emerge eventually. Peterme is right on that blogging is primarily a form.
But there is a sense in which the weblog is also a medium, and that’s syndication. XML syndication, it seems to me, fundamentally changes the way in which weblog stories are transmitted and read. When people start using aggregators, they can scan a much larger quantity of stories — and with integrated aggregator/weblog tools, such as Radio, they can post their own responses much more quickly. That creates a kind of “virtuous circle” of converation, as Udell has noted. Like Udell, I suspect we’re at the very beginning of the syndication adoption curve, and its effects will become much clearer as we move further along that curve.
Is RSS/RDF syndication a medium? I think so. And this syndication is a big part of what makes weblogs so interesting and so powerful.