What is Blogging Anyway?

Dave Winer wrote a piece about a lesson that he learned from listening to his users. In it, he talked about how he saw his product, Fargo as an outliner and Mathew Ingram wrote an article calling it a blogging tool.

I think what we have here is a case of two different concepts of blogging. I think that blogging is more about the content than the medium. A blogger could write a blog with a text editor in raw html and post it to his site using ftp.

A different concept of blogging is that it is anything that is published in a blogging framework like WordPress or Blogger.com. I have seen more than a few WordPress sites that were anything but a blog. It turns out that the templating facilities of blog publishing tools make building a more conventional site easier too.

An outliner is not synonymous with a blogging tool. It is like a word processor. It can be used for a lot of things. The fact that it can be hooked up to a blogging API is incidental to it’s primary identity as an idea processor. As Dave points out in the “What is Fargo?” Document section What outliners are used for, it can be used for:

  • 1. Notetaking.
  • 2. Organizing projects.
  • 3. Course outlines.
  • 4. Bulleted lists.
  • 5. Narrating your work.
  • 6. Thinking.
  • 7. Presentations.
  • 8. Brainstorming.
  • 9. Writing.
  • 10. Design.
  • 11. Programming.
  • 12. Specifications.

I think that what often happens is that someone sees that Dave has come out with a product, associates Dave with blogging, and naturally assumes that the intent of the product is as a blogging tool. I think it is fair to say that is one of the uses of Fargo, just not the only one.

I must acknowledge that Dave learned one important thing from Mathew. You’ve got to listen to your users. They are the ultimate authorities on what your product is good for. We have heard a lot of interesting ideas that people are using Fargo for in the Fargo Community Forum.

I suspect he already knew it, as he has been advocating for users for the entire time I have been reading his blog — some fifteen or twenty years now.