John Roberts notes that:

One of the oddities for me in thinking about blogs is that there is rarely a sense of someone staying On topic in the sense of traditional publications. If you read the Wall Street Journal, you know what you're going to get, and where you're going to get it, often to the column on the page. If you read CNET, ditto...
With blogs, you're reading about individuals, and most of us have -- and share -- varied interests. Some folks even blog about those different interests in the same place, with or without categorization. That diversity -- all in the same blog -- is part of the appeal for me, but it sure makes it hard to categorize different voices into coherent groupings.

This that's something that a lot of people, especially those new to reading weblogs, just don't seem to get. They fail to see what's really happening. Many of us who write regularly are becoming our own micro-brands, just like magazine and newspaper columnists do. They build an audience that sometimes is loyal enough to follow them from publication to publication during their careers.

To the early adopters, among which I count myself, the names above often mean something, whether you know them as a person or not. Some of the labels stick. But the reason this still works is that the early adopters in the blogging world are still a small group, David Sifry's numbers be damned.

Well said.

I don't read Jon Udell's writing because he writes for Byte, Infoworld, or any other publication. I read his stuff because I like what he writes. He's a smart guy who writes interesting stuff. While his weblog is a lot more "professional" than mine or Tim Bray's (no offense, Tim--we both talk about non-work stuff regularly), the same reasoning applies.

Amusingly, he also uses me as an exmaple:

But how do you describe why you would read, for instance, Jeremy Zawodny's blog?

I won't attempt to answer that, but it does give me an idea for a little reader survey. I do wonder, among other things, how many of my blog readers also read my columns in Linux Magazine.

His other point, made later on, is that blog classification is difficult. When the new My Yahoo launched, I told Scott Gatz (and several others internally) how I was amused by finding myself listed in the Living & Lifestyles category of our little content directory that helps users to find content.

I'm no Martha Stewart, but Wil Wheaton and Jeff Jarvis are in there too, so whatever. I guess that's where bloggers go. Notice that in the Internet & Technology category, it's exclusively Yahoo content on the first page.

Even the surfers at Yahoo aren't sure what to do with us! :-)

Posted by jzawodn at December 03, 2004 02:41 PM

Reader Comments
# seth said:

I read many blogs that don't stay "on-topic," or more often, never intended to have a "topic." I still love them.

However, when I thought about starting my own blog, I had the distinct feeling that I should have a "topic."

However, now that I have done that, on a number of occasions I feel compelled to blog about something off-topic. So far, I have fought that urge for the sake of consistency. However, I'm not so sure how long that will last.

on December 3, 2004 02:54 PM
# Nick W said:

Didnt know you wrote at linux mag, being a gentoo boy i'll check it out...

on December 3, 2004 03:05 PM
# Chris said:

I was dense for a while there-I was reading your columns in Linux Magazine and following the blog, but never noticed the columns' byline until much later. :)

on December 3, 2004 03:47 PM
# John said:

Since you asked: I read this column every day, and had never heard of Linux Magazine until this morning. (I also read Tim Bray daily.) I agree with your thesis that the "topic" of most blogs is the person writing, and that this is not a bad thing.

on December 4, 2004 02:06 AM
# Scott Johnson said:

There aren't many logs that I read that stay on a particular topic. The blogs that do stick to a particular topic, do so quite well. PVRblog has been noted for this particular trait many times before. And I was amused to read an exchange on John Battelle's blog today wherein he enforced his stance that his blog is about search and nothing else.

Back on topic, I first came to this blog because it was an "A list" blog. It was on a list of default feeds in the first RSS newsreader I used. It was interesting. There were some topics which I wasn't seeking to read about intentionally that caught my attention on a regular basis. And I'm obviously still reading this blog today, about a year an a half since I first read it. I agree with the micro-brand idea mostly, and I read the brands that I enjoy.

on December 4, 2004 06:54 PM
# John S. Rhodes said:

"Why are blogs popular? Are they popular like paper? No. They are popular because of the human value. They are valuable when other people consume them. You read a blog because it has Human Value (or perhaps Economic Value or Social Value) but not Paper Value."

on January 10, 2005 08:30 AM
# John said:

I invented a micro brand product. This new bag of coffee did not exist in the coffee industry until I created it. Look at

on January 31, 2005 04:05 AM
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