Blogging had its tenth birthday party this week. What a big big boy it has become. Even I acknowledge that not each and every 70 million bloggers are fools and not each and every one of their 1.5 million daily blogs are idiotic. The question is how to determine value to all these electronic diarists. It is pretty obvious what is bad, what is atrocious and what is simply shameless. What interests me, however, is what criteria we should use to define a blog that has some lasting value.
One way is to give out prizes to the most valuable bloggers and blogs. Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media suggests the award of Pulitzer blog prize. Leigh wants to give the first Pulitzer to The Friends of Duke University a blog that independently investigates the Duke Lacrosse rape case. But Leigh makes the classic mistake of assuming that new media = old media + new technology. He thinks that blogging should be crusading journalism digitally distributed on the Internet. He's wrong. As a new communications form, blogging has less to do with a search for external truth and is more an appropriate vessel for a radically new kind of author. Leave the old-fashioned excavation of civic truth to the New York Times and Washington Post; blogging is editorless short-form autobiography distributed daily on the Internet. The skillful blogger reveals and confesses themself in their daily posts. He is Augustine after Aristotle or Christianity after the collapse of Rome. A blog is a rich media retreat into the self, an interactive version of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions. Rather than "conversational media", a blog is actually "confessional" media.
So if the Pulitzer Prize committee used my criteria to determine a Blog Pulitzer, who should receive its inaugerial award?
My award of the first Pulitzer would be to Dave Winer, the author of Scripting News, the first and still the most consistently authentic blog. The Guardian's Bobby Johnson calls him a prickly New Yorker, which he is in person (even though he now lives in Berkeley). But, in his all-too-human blog, Winer is consistently confessional, revelationary and nakedly honest. It is the man behind the beard. The blog is totally Dave; Winer unplugged.
In a summary of blogging first 10 years, the Guardian's Johnson reminds us that some bloggers have signed "lucrative book deals". But I don't think Winer could translate his blog into a traditional text without losing its originality. Scripting News can't be read like a book or watched like tv or listened to like the radio. Instead, it has to be entered into. This is a self-authored version of Being John Malcovich. Scripting News transforms the man into media. The blog actually enables us to become Dave Winer; the other version -- the bearded, prickly one -- is obviously just an invention.