Weblogging is not ‘tech’

Weblogging is not ‘tech’.

Weblogging uses technology, but is not, in and of itself, ‘technology’. Weblogging conferences are not technology conferences — not unless the focus of the conference is building software, not using it.

When you’re a weblogger, this doesn’t mean you’re a ‘tech’. You might be both a tech and a weblogger; you might be interested in tech; you might write about tech. But using weblogging software, or having a weblog, is not ‘tech’.

You can have an opinion on technology, and should be encouraged to have an opinion on technology, but this doesn’t make you a tech. I am interested in DRM and copyright, and I’ve not been shy about having an opinion on either, but that does not make me a lawyer.

If you’re anything when you’re a weblogger, you’re a writer. Or a photographer. Or perhaps even a pain in the butt (several hands raise). But you’re not a tech, not unless you do more with technology than use a weblogging tool.

Just getting this off my chest. Weblogging is not tech.

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17 Responses to Weblogging is not ‘tech’

  1. Lorianne says:

    Exactly. Non-bloggers often think I’m a tech-guru just because I type stuff into a computer interface that then posts that stuff online. Just because you *drive* a car doesn’t mean you know how to fix or build one, so just because you blog doesn’t mean you know how the inner-workings of the technology that “drives” your site.

  2. This shows where weblogging has come in the last six years. At the outset, weblogging *was* tech, because it was (still) about the tools themselves.

    I’m re-reading my first sentence and telling myself, why are you so surprised to be making a statement about this 6 year span? (old timer!…is there a dog years equivalent for blogging or life-on-the-web-in-general?) I think what you say is more obvious to someone who’s come to blogging more recently, in the blogs-are-ubiquitous era. Not as easy to see for someone who’s been with it, when its beginnings were entwined with tech, as the tools for writing were being hammered out and discovered by techy tool-makers and techy tool-users.

    It strikes me that this is a corollary to what Dave Winer says about RSS came from the publishing industry. (no, I don’t want to get into a discussion of RSS and all that) Just want to draw attention to another “it’s not tech, it’s publishing” thread, to coincide with your “it’s not tech, it’s writing/photography/etc” thread.

  3. Seth Russell says:

    Hey, you can’t just declare that in black and green. There are newbies coming on-line every day … just filling out a form is like high tech to them. Remember when you first got on the Net … wow what a challenge .. at least if you got on from an Apple II in 1984 … still and all that wasn’t tech either then, it was all off the shelf. One can never go bankrupt by under estimating the incredible stretch out of technological know-how. Actually this blogosphere has to go another round or two before i would declare it common knowledge like making a phone call or driving a car. Me thinks your too close to it to see that. Just had to get that off my chest.

  4. Ethan says:

    Hmmm, on the surface I am inclined to agree that blogging != tech, however, I am having semantic sparks shoot out of my ears. To wit:

    Weblogging conferences are not technology conferences — not unless the focus of the conference is building software, not using it.

    So usability != tech? Explain, using powerful “action words” and reference at least 3 “web 2.0″ startups and 2 lines from “San Tropez” by Pink Floyd.

    (And yes, I may be pushing it saying that “talking about how cool blogging is” = “usability”. But that wasn’t explicit, unless it was, and I rushed to post my clever comment.)

  5. jessi says:

    Evidently, writing html constitutes being tech enough to be in such fine calendar publications as GeekGorgeous 2006. One model notes, “I actually enjoyed my web design course and like writing html code.”

    I think blogging has gotten some people, who would otherwise not have any interest in technology, closer to doing some coding. And I know that the weblogging stuff I have done has given me the opportunity to begin expanding my skill set (learning languages/technologies that aren’t yet embraced by corporate america).

    But weblogging isn’t tech; I agree.

  6. Charles says:

    I am a writer. Since my early teenage years learning calligraphy with Speedball nibs, developing fine italic writing, through my more recent studies in Japanese calligraphy with a brush and ink, I have sought to hone my craft so I can write both legibly and expressively. Lately I have come to favor mechanical pencils, both for their utility and their technical ingenuity. Lately I am torn between the fine German craftsmanship of Rotring technical pencils, versus the zen-like simplicity of Japanese mechanical pencils by Pilot. I keep wavering back and forth because there is a battle of mechanical pencil technology, the Japanese developed a fine point 0.15mm pencil, and the Germans responded with a 0.10mm pencil. Mechanical pencil technology is developing most rapidly with this new international competition for the ultimate design.
    Yes indeed, I am a writer.

  7. Right. Weblogging is not tech. At its best it’s writing, at it’s worst it’s balderdash. Fine word “balderdash.”

    Susan Kitchen’s point deserves amplification, because this lunar new year the Year of the Dog began, and everyone knows that on the Internets nobody knows you’re a dog.

    If you’ve been doing this for six years, then good for you if you can still learn new tricks.

  8. dave rogers says:

    Ah, but what is a “tech?”

    There’s a “technician:”
    • an expert in the practical application of a science.
    • a person skilled in the technique of an art or craft.

    There’s a “technologist,” presumably one who studies “technology.”

    Then there’s the “techie,” which seems, to me, to be some amalgamation of the two.

    I suspect Shelley’s emphasizing both senses of the first definition, while I suspect many people who think of themselves as “techies” are in the second definition, people who have some interest in technology that does not extend to being experts in practical applications, or skilled in any particular technique.

    One takes discipline, persistence, effort and time; the other often requires little more than making an assertion. And webloggers love to make assertions.

    Like that!

  9. Shelley says:

    Dave, my head imploded into purple lilies after the second definition.

    Susan, true, most of the webloggers years ago (six years — gah) were involved in the tech directly or indirectly. But now, the tools isolate you from HTML, most people work with pre-made CSS and even this is being separated from direct contact, and so on.

    Speaking of which, RSS has a new board now. I wonder how many of the members are tech…or not?

    Charles, I’ve forgotten how to use pencils, myself. Too technical.

    Ethan, I think that’s tech != usable.

  10. jr says:

    It may not be tech but one has to have a certain amount of technitude to put up with the crudley user interfaces that are being foisted upon the masses.

  11. Shelley says:

    Lorianne, you bring up something of additional interest: I’m a big believer that if you drive a car, you should have some fundamental mechanical training so that you aren’t ripped off at a minimum. I believe that webloggers should have at, a minimum, these same set of survival skills. But that doesn’t make them ‘techs’, same as basic understanding of necessary mechanics does not make one a ‘mechanic’.

    PS: Which is what you’re saying, jr, and Ethan was saying earlier. But what about the interfaces is ‘bad’, and how can they improve? I’ve seen some folks say, “Give me a WYSIWYG interface”. Others than say, oh that’s awful, give me what I used to have.

    There is no ‘good’ interface. There is only compromise among the users.

  12. Lis Riba says:


    Have you ever read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics? In it, he spends some time differentiating between form and content.

    And the same holds true for blogs. Weblog is a format, but may contain current events advocacy, personal diaries, photos, audio clips, etcetera.

    Blogging can be a techie endeavor, but doesn’t have to be.

  13. Karl says:

    Some of the most interesting technology has been/is coming from the publishing space.

    But what the media seems to miss is, I think, am not sure, that the MySpace/LiveJournal/Xanga blogosphere is larger than our corner of the web – even if it has produced so few media darlings.

  14. Seth Russell says:

    PS: If you don’t want blogging to be tech, then start referring to it with non techie words: like “feed” instead of “rss”. And what about that markup language, that is still programming. Many of my friends know how to drag a link, but would never think of writing a href.

  15. Pat says:

    It’s a post like this that makes me happy I link BurningBird! We can thank the techs for our ability to blog so blithely.

  16. Lis Riba says:

    FWIW, Karl, LiveJournal posts their user stats @ http://www.livejournal.com/stats.bml

    A few tidbits of note:
    9382377 total accounts; 2013643 currently “active” (however they define it)
    Among those who list their gender, 67% female
    median age 18 or 19

  17. Ken Camp says:

    I comment far too little everywhere lately, so I’m late joining here. I do consider myself a tech, a technologist, and a techie in Dave’s definitions, but it was Seth’s comment that compelled me to post a thought. Seth Said “And what about that markup language, that is still programming.”

    I think there’s a much finer line. Formatting posts (bold, italics, bullets, and all the niceties of text formatting ala MS Office) and things like hyperlinks to external locations, internal documents, pictures or what have you aren’t tech. And I’d argue they require no knowledge of markup language given the plethora of blogging interfaces.

    Yes, to JR’s point, those interfaces are crudly (I’d lean toward fugly), but they exist and “shield” writers from the technical minutia behind the scenes.

    I’m with Shelley. Blogging isn’t tech, when it’s usable. I can be tech depending on tools of choice, but once we dive into tools, we’re not talking about blogging, we’re talking about tech.

    In my mind, the blogging tools, tweaks, and power wanders in to tech. Blogging is just another application. It’s Word, it’s powerpoint, it’s Firefox. It’s an application with a very shallow learning curve for those who wish to be writers, or photographers, or even podcasts.

    It’s only tech for those of us who choose to make it tech. Now the question is, do we really chooose to make it tech so that we can feel elitist about our own use of what, at the core, are just simple web-based applications?