Jorn Barger, the NewsPage Network, and the Emergence of the Weblog Community

This is from the online version of a paper being presented at Hypertext09.

I already knew the general shape of the history, and I’m not sure that the author is actually providing us with a new take or a new insight (the introduction simply establishes the facts, rather than emphasizing how a new archival discovery, historical or critical approach, or point of view shapes and organizes those facts).  Nevertheless, I was impressed with the references that carefully walk through events from the dawn of the blogosphere.

Today’s blogosphere with its wealth of discursive practices is, in Jay Bolter’s phrase, a writing space.[1]
It did not start this way. The blogosphere had an immediate historical
predecessor, the weblog community, in which the weblog held a
rhetorically ambiguous and contested status between a writing space
that answered an author’s expressive needs and an access structure[2]
through which an editor was meant to aggregate and annotate the Web’s
undiscovered riches. The conflict between access structure and writing
space appears under a number of different names in the writings of
Rebecca Blood, the weblog community’s foremost apologist and
chronicler, who describes it as an antagonism that split the community
at its core: those who, like herself, believed that weblogs performed a
“valuable filtering function”[3] and aimed to be “dependable sources of links to reliably interesting material”[4]:54
increasingly found themselves opposed to – and outnumbered by – an
“influx of short-form diarists” who wouldn’t link but posted “entry
after entry of blurts and personal observations,”[5]:149 thus “inverting the primary values of the community.”[5]:154Rudolph Ammann