Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 24, 2007

This is Not a Frickin' Blog: It's a Site is DeadAren't you sick of being referred to as a "Blogger?" Well, you ought to be, especially if what you run is a site, not a Blog. What's the difference? Well, a "Blog" is usually nothing more than a narrow vertical column of content spat out by a backend system such as Blogger or TypePad, sorted in reverse chronological order. The bottom edge of this column is sawed off and auto-archived and the rest of the page area is reserved for a set of unmoving elements, either a "Blogroll" (list of other Blogs one likes) or Google Adsense code.

There are minor variants to this basic formula, but most Blogs are structurally identical, and I suppose that's why people like them: the structure is easy to understand, easy to update, and the software takes care of the archiving, which has always been the biggest pain in the ass in Web publishing.

OK, so that's a Blog. What the hell is a site? Well, a site is a collection of documents tucked into directories, ranging from a handful of HTML and graphic files to a titanic library. For example, this site has about 50 directories, and at least 1,000 pages, only some of which were produced by Blogger, the software used to generate this page). Sites might look like Blogs, but Blogs almost never look or act like sites, because of the sheer number of files and directories involved and the fact that you can do a lot more with a site than with a Blog.

Why the hell am I pursuing this distinction? Because it angers me that so many people, especially journalists, lump people who are publishing small jots of text which consist mainly of a hyperlink and a "check this out" imperative with people who actually publish articles, create sites, and otherwise behave like publishers, or at least Webmasters. In their eyes, we're "all Bloggers" just because we might happen to use Blogger or Typepad to automate some of our content production tasks. We're Webmasters, damn it, not Bloggers, and we share almost nothing in common with the Blogger mob. We know how to use FTP, install software on a server, can code HTML by hand, and resize and debabelize graphics without having to resort to Picasa.

Does this make us superior? No, but it makes us different enough to regard ourselves as a different species. Are we wiser? Probably, but only because we're a few yars closer to death than the paradigmatic Blogging teenager. We remember what it was like when you had to Fetch, FTP, recode and reload to make even the minutest change on a Web page. We know what happens when you ("gasp") mistakenly swap index.html in a subdirectory with index.html in your root directory. We're dinasoars, cranky old men, and someday we'll all gather in the New Media Old Age Home to trade FTP horror stories, boring the nurses with tales of NABPLPS and the old BBS days. We're insufferable, really, but please, unless you want a fistfight or at least a flame war, don't call us Bloggers. We're not, never have been, and never will be.

We're Webmasters, and while that and $2.00 will get you on the New York Subway, heed this warning from Disobey's own Morbus, who saw more clearly than anyone the devastation which Blogging would bring to the Web back in 2001, in a prophetic article entitled Why Blogger Empowers Mindless Nits. Among the ill effects which Blogger induced were a lamentable change in thinking that's still with us today.'s not about creating good content, its about creating ENOUGH content so that people will look at it, thinking you have something important to say. And with blog wars, blog voting, and "via trails", it's no longer about WHAT you have to say, but rather HOW MANY people are listening.

Morbus was right. In just six years, the Web has been taken over by "fur-assed" Blogging barbarians, the proud days of site authorship are over, and the future looks even darker, as Myspace and Facebook are populated by transient pieces of content which don't even deserve to be called "pages." Even our cherished term "web sites" has been compressed by all the collective Blogging bullshit into "websites."

There is no honor left in the realm.

Labels: ,

Click Here to Return to the Ghost Sites Home Page