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When is a blog not a blog?

OK, I’ve just got to get this off my mind: What is a workable definition of a blog? Or more to the point, when is a blog not a blog?

Consider the following:

> John Cooley now labels his compilations (insightful as they are) as a “blog.” Yet John himself didn’t really think he was a blogger during the discussion at the recent DaC’08 Blogger BoF.

> Just found out that Cadence has a blog site with a ton of bloggers. When did that happen? (Personal note to Cadence: Your registration process for blog commenters is too lengthy and cumbersome. Compare it to Synopsys, which has been going for the last year or so and is very easy to leave comments.)

What’s my point? It’s the point I was trying to make at the Dac Blogger BoF event, namely: What is the basic definition, the minimal acceptance criteria for a blog site? Simple enough question, but difficult to answer since it spawns a number of related questions such as:

> Is a blog just the aimless ramblings of its author, or is it a vehicle for the free exchange of ideas without filtering or compilation and in a timely manner?

> What is the difference between a company blog and a blog on an independent publishing site (such as Chip Design or EDN)? Yes, there really is a difference.

Well, that’s all for now. I feel much better for getting this down. Been on my mind for a while. Nite, all.

9 Responses to “When is a blog not a blog?”

  1. Daniel Says:


    The Synopsys and Cadence blog sites are mostly the Product Marketing Managers talking about what’s new with their tool or IP. They tend to sound like info-mercials after awhile. I would expect that these large companies may even have a process where blog entries must first be reviewed before publication, just in case something controversial was being touted.

    The Cadence site has many users interacting and reporting bugs and asking “how-to” questions. They have more bloggers than any other company in the industry.

    The appealing point with Cooley is that he isn’t trying to sell me an EDA tool or new IP, rather he speaks his mind openly about the state of IC design from a personal viewpoint and the shared viewpoint of his followers. He’s been a blogger before the word was invented, yet he could really improve his site if he used real blogging software instead of email followed by manual editing and compilation.

  2. John Blyler Says:

    Well put, Daniel. Good summary of corporate vs non-corporate blogs.

    “… blogger before the word was invented.” Kind of gets back to the definition of a blog, doesn’t it. Would you count those of us that “blogged” on Tony Perkin’s original AlwaysOn Network as bloggers? Or those that participated in the early days of LifeJournal. Or better yet, The Well?

    It’s an interesting – and some tell me rather academic – study in semantics. Still, what defines a blog is a question worth asking … and answering. I may go back to Tony and ask him directly, since the roots of blogging go far beyond the recent involvement of most of the EDA industry.

  3. John Ford Says:


    Actually, if you go back to the origin of the term ‘blog’, or ‘weblog’ – then none of us are ‘bloggers’. The original blog was a daily linkfest of the places on the internet visited by the blogger – I think it was meant to be used if the blogger ever wanted to go back to a site – just ‘log’ it!

    Only as tools for blogging became available to everyone did blogging become the practice of opining, ranting, pondering, and (God forbid) informing – and exploded from there.

    I’m not sure if there is value in determining whether someone is a ‘blogger’ or not. I do think that there is value in being able to determine, if possible the motivation or slant, if you will, of the writer – which is why the word independence comes up so often in these conversations. However, even independent bloggers (as I would classify myself) have an agenda, and it’s usually to promote oneself in some way, however subtle.

    For example, I maintain that I receive value from writing about DFT, since I usually have to research the subject, so I don’t look like a complete idiot – it could be somebody reading might want to hire me one day. So I learn from my blogging. I stay abreast of the industry. I make contacts. Heck, if there’s value in my work, and enough people visit my site, maybe I’ll make a couple bucks off Google adsense. I won’t deny entertaining the thought.

    People are right to call into question the motivation of corporate bloggers, but it doesn’t nullify their value. People are right to wonder about the accuracy of anybody’s writing, be it indy blogger, corporate blogger or journalist. But I think there’s value to be taken from all of it. Truth shines through…


  4. Lou Covey Says:

    John, a blog is supposed to allow a more effective interaction between the blogger and the commenters. what John dows is more accurately described as a bulletin board because it isn’t published in real time. John waits until he has mutliple inputs and then throws it out. This giveds him maximum control of the content, which is often more a reflection of his views than a real conversation.

  5. John Blyler Says:

    Bulletin boards! How could I have forgotten that term? I remember spending time on my friend’s Vic 20 (and my Atari 65 computer) reading/posting to bulletin boards. JohnC does provide a very valuable and interesting service with his DeepChip BB. He just needs to start-up a blog to complement them.

  6. John Blyler Says:

    Hi JohnF. Lots of Johns on this post. :)

    The tools for sharing opinions, experiences, expertise have existed almost since the inception of the Arpanet. They were not available to everyone except those well versed in Unix.

    The web interface make blogging practical and interesting for everyone. And I agree with you, most bloggers are just happy to share their opinions. They couldn’t care less about the nuiances of blogging vs bulletin boards vs data gathering/sharing mechanisms vs social networking tools … ad nauseam.

    Understanding the difference is critical to those of us engaged in the future of content vehicles – print magazines, online pubs, etc. Marcom, PR and VC communities are all trying to understand the current landscape and (more importantly) predict what the future direction will be. Check out places like SemiNeedle if you’d like to see once such approach. Or simple watch the Chip Design site in mid-Sept for another perhaps more daring approach.

    “Having an agenda …” Most bloggers want to believe that the playing field is level, that blogging is a democracy. This is why many bloggers differentiate between corporate blogging and (for lack of a better word) independent blogging. This is why several corporate bloggers choice to blog on independent sites. Yes, it’s a matter of perception as much as anything else. But perception counts, whether we like to admit it or not. So the question of understanding the differences between corporate and independent sites is important, even to the blogging community in general.

    Don’t misunderstand me; both types of sites are critical to our blogging ecosystem. But there are differences that must be understood, which is why so many CEOs and VPs of Marketing were attending/speaking at the BoF event.

    Well, that’s all I have time for at the moment. Thx for sharing your thoughts, JohnF. I consider myself a writer at heart, so I readily identify with many of your observations. But my involvement with the media industry forces me to take a wider view.

    What a ride, eh?

    As for your comments on

  7. Jakob Engblom Says:

    “Corporate” or “News site” blogging — what about the totally own domains that some people setup, and which presumably belong to them rather than their employer of the moment? I personally tend to find these more interesting, but corporate blogs can also build confidence over time… if they do not sound like too much filtered by marketing teams worrying about public perception.

    I set up my own blog as a purely personal venture to write on things that I wanted to write on — to get things off of my mind and into the world for discussion, basically. The blog form offers a bit of freedom that writing academic articles or articles in the press does not.

    > But I think there’s value to be taken from all of it. Truth shines through…



  8. John Blyler Says:

    Hi Jakob. Good point about “totally owned domains.” Not a catagory that I had considered.

    Agree that blogs that don’t attempt to deceive the readers with “spin” should – in theory – prevail over time. Problem is that “spin” can be very convincing, if done properly. Just ask any PR person.

    I view my blog very much as you do your’s – a place to relax slightly and write about matters that I consider important or interesting. (see About)

    BTW: Is this your blogsite?
    Observations from Uppsala – Computer Technology: Simulation, Virtualization, Virtual Platforms, Embedded, Multicore and Multiprocessing

    Believe the link in your last posting was mistyped. Cheers.

  9. JB’s Circuit » Bloggers and Journalists at DAC – Two Years Later Says:

    [...] When is a blog not a blog? (Aug 2008) [...]

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