This is not a column

I've been privileged these last two years to get many calls from PR folks, even from principals within the open source community, and I grind my teeth every time they write or say "your column."

This is not a column. This is a blog.

What are some of  the differences? Glad you asked.

  1. A column is static. A blog post is not.
  2. A column is designed to reveal truth. A blog post is designed to start a conversation.
  3. A column is about the author. A blog is about the reader, whom we hope to make a writer.

I've been privileged these last two years to get many calls from PR folks, even from principals within the open source community, and I grind my teeth every time they write or say "your column."

Let me illustrate the difference with an example.

Say you read something here which is demonstrably wrong. Maybe one of my sources was wrong. The information behind a link was wrong. I mistyped a quote, misunderstood what was said, or mispoke in some other way.

I won't be happy, but I want it fixed. We can find that little element of copy and strike it out. In the item itself. We can point to it in boldface or put update: at the top of the item, so folks who read the wrong thing can be corrected. We can write a new item, and point to it from the old one.

All very simple in a blog item. No weaseling.

In a column, it's different. A column is written once, then published, and it should never ever change. To seek change in a column requires that you first call the author a bad name, one I won't repeat here because this is a family blog. When an editor sees a mistake in a column, the writer is called on the carpet and yelled at. They may lose their job.

Columns are designed for paper. Blogs are designed for the Web. Blogs make extensive use of links, so you don't have to take my word for things. In fact I would rather you didn't.

The blue command below this item, the one labeled comment, is another difference.

I want you to comment. I want you to respond to others' comments. Feel free to call me out. Feel free to e-mail me and call me out. Feel free to call me and call me out.

It might give me a new blog post. I might learn something. Readers might learn something. We might all have more to talk about.

Because this is a blog, not a column.

EoR. (End of Rant.) We now return you to your regularly-scheduled tech blog.

P.S. One more thing. Open source is more like a blog than it is like a column. You can see what it's made of. You can respond to the authors. You can change it.

P.P.S. If Google objects to the use of blog as a noun (lower case), because it treds on their trademark for Blogger software, please accept my apology. This is a weblog. It is an online diary. It is an Internet journal. It's just not a column.

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