August 01, 2002

Sent this to the Times::

This is in response to Safire's most recent "On Language" column, "Blog." I've always respected Safire's etymological, if not political, expertise. In fact, I wrote him a letter when I was 11 or so, protesting the grammar of Tom Petty's "I Need a Lover that Won't Drive Me Crazy." (I argued it should be "who" as the lover was probably a person and not a thing.) Safire did not reply.

However, how, with his staff of researchers, could he have so misstated the culture, purpose, history, and etymology of "blog"? Leaving aside the snide crack about "average but opinionated Joe or Josie"s chronicling their minutiae... (Over 3 years of blogging, I've read and met some crackerjack bright, informed, creative, and activist bloggers, contributing to our society's dialogues for free, as opposed to cranking out columns to fill allotted space.) There has been a vociferous, and quite easy-to-find discussion on the web, occasioned by the recent publication of two books on blogging by prominent bloggers. People dispute the genesis of the form, the weight of certain bloggers' contributions and tech innovations.

But what is universally acknowledged is that the word "Blog" was deliberately coined by Peter Merholz in 1999 in his weblog "Weblog" had been the word to describe the form. Peter announced "I am now going to call it we-blog (pronounced wee-blog); 'blog for short." It's history, and it's easily verified with a simple web search. Why do people persist in rewriting even recent history when grassroots phenomena finally "earn" acknowledgement by major media?