No standard blog

Tim Bray has a thoughtful posting about the blog newspaper editting process. He points out that the online blogging world, and even the New York Times, revise postings overtime.

Newspapers have always done this; revising the paper’s content in response to newly arriving info from all three sources: the editors, the situation, and the audience. Papers have always had multiple editions. Papers are not the
permeant record. Newsprint isn’t particularly scarce. You wrap fishes in it.

Book publishers and academic journals don’t do this. The act of publishing and distributing a book or a journal is sufficently scarce that they are forced to front load the editting.

The scarcity of the media and channel is the fundimental force driving the editorial industry, but not the only force. Curiously most editors think their purpose is quality control. This is a classic confusion of supply and demand. The demand that editors fill is the need to manage a scarce channel – to make choices about what get’s sent down that scarce channel. To solve that problem they have standardized on a particular sorting scheme – the editorial process – and, of course, they sort for quality. Quality is, of course a very multidimensional thing and the editorial process of any given person or institution draws one some subset of that.

Blogs like mail and web pages, are totally outside channel scarcity problem. The demand that gave rise to the editorial function is obsolete. The absense of scarcity allows numerous kinds of quality to emerge.

Yesterday we acquired a button from a group that’s working against the authoritarian fad for standardized testing: “There is no such thing as a standard kid.” There are no such thing as a standard blog.

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