One of the most interesting things about the information revolution brought on by the internet is that millions of people have been given access to a public voice that they never would have had. But it is still questionable whether this has had a positive or negative impact on writing in general. Before the internet, if you wanted people to read something you had written, you either had to give it to them personally, or go through some sort of publisher, be it newspaper, magazine, or book. Those publishers had the tools to reproduce your writing and distribute it to a community of readers that, while varying in size, was always more than you could reach alone. But now anyone can create a blog and a few social media profiles, and within weeks reach thousands, if not tens of thousands, of potential readers.
So while the internet has changed the means of distribution of information, what has not changed is the basic types of writing, of which there are, really, only two: writing for oneself (here, journaling) and writing for others (here, writing-proper). These types of writing usually serve different purposes, and before the internet they also existed in mutually-exclusive spheres, the private and the public. But now these spheres seem to be somewhat mixed up.
This is especially obvious in blog writing, where the line between journaling/writing and private/public is often unclear. This fuzzy distinction has given blogs, rightly or wrongly, a bit of a stigma as the medium of choice for wannabe intellectuals and whiny teenagers. While it would certainly be unfair to see all blogs as belonging to one of these two camps, this stereotype hints at some of the big problems in blog writing today. Blogs, in general, suffer from two major problems: authors presenting journaling as writing-proper, and writers misunderstanding the implicit assumptions in starting a new blog.
But before we deal with blog writing, let me clarify what I mean by journaling and writing-proper. Journaling’s most important attribute is its freeness. When one journals, one is free to work out thoughts or problems without the scrutiny of others or the demands of the rules of language. This freedom from concerns of audience can be invaluable when attempting to work through personal problems, develop new ideas, or be creative. Journaling may lead to writing-proper, but in-itself it is often of interest only to the author. Occasionally journal-style writing will appeal to an audience outside the author, but more often than not it is too narrowly personal, too confusingly self-referential, or too boring or petty to be interesting to others.
Writing-proper, on the other hand, should be of interest to others, because the author writes in order to communicate with someone else. This is the essential distinction of writing-proper, and since the author writes with others in mind, he pays special attention to word choice, style, grammar, and all the other rules of usage in language in order to strike his audience in a particular way. Even when attempting to alter her audience in some way, whether it is linguistically, behaviorally, or intellectually, the author always tries to find the best means for conveying her thoughts. These means could look radically different, depending on whether the author is writing a poem or a lab-report, but there is always a consideration of the audience in writing-proper.
In the next part of Journaling, Writing, and Blogging, I’ll explain how blogs have the accessibility of journaling, but the audience of writing proper, and how this mixture has given blogs an unsavory reputation. I’ll then explain the problem of the proliferation of blogs, and finally how blogs have the potential to be an excellent medium for writing-proper.
 And as a wannabe intellectual, I object to being grouped with whiny teenagers.