Ellee Seymour pointed me to an article by Michael Gove for the Times about the quality of blogs. His argument, which seems well-rooted in an understanding of the history of blogging is that quality will out. Many blogs, he argues, are doomed to obscurity:
But while the original weblogger was meant to have the skills of a great commonplace book editor, most blogs, it has to be admitted, are scarcely edited and just plain commonplace. Increasingly, blogs have become just the logs of what people happen to have done that day, unadorned diary entries, placed on the web. So many bloggers have become little more than electronic Adrian Moles or 21st-century Pooters, inclined to imagine that the minutiae of their daily lives is intrinsically interesting because it�s posted on the net.
Ellee disagrees with Gove:
That sounds a little harsh to me. I believe everyone should be entitled to have their own site and write what they like in their own style. It is personal to them, and the more Adrian Moles the better, particularly if it encourages more young people to write and enables people to let off steam. What might not interest you Michael, is probably fascinating to someone else. And most bloggers don�t want to be published by Waterstone�s.
I’m not sure he’s being harsh, I think he’s just misunderstanding what motivates people to blog. Sure, some people blog to be read by as many people as possible and, as a journalist-turned-politician, Gove is likely to see that as the primary motivation. Can you think of two more attention-seeking trades? But many people blog only to be read by a circle of family or friends. That’s the thinking behind Vox, the new blogging platform from Six Apart, and I’m having a blast using it for that very purpose.
For blogs aiming for mass readership, sure, quality of writing, comment, analysis and wit will win out. For those blogging for a smaller, more personal audience, a whole different set of criteria will come into play.
As I seem to say endlessly, blogging is just another communication medium. There’s more than one way of doing it.