Back in May, I wrote a short article about why you should never, ever use the word blog to mean blog post. The reasons for this, as I explained, are pretty simple. When you’re talking about a blog post, calling it a blog can be confusing, like calling an article a magazine. And it can make you sound fogeyish and bewildered about the Internet: To most of us, who say blog post, it’s like saying “the Twitter” or “the Google.” I hate to put it so bluntly, but I’m just trying to stop you from sounding stupid.
In a post this week on Gawker, Tom Scocca doesn’t dispute either of these points, and yet he reaches the opposite conclusion. “Everyone Can Go Ahead and Call a Blog Post ‘A Blog’ Now,” the headline declares. What led Scocca to this pronouncement? This sentence from Roger Angell’s article in The New Yorker this week (available only to subscribers):
Dailiness—but how can I explain this one? Perhaps with a blog recently posted on Facebook by a woman I know who lives in Australia. “Good Lord, we’ve run out of nutmeg!” it began. “How in the world did that ever happen?” Dozens of days are like that with me lately.
To Scocca, this sentence represents the imprimatur of not one but two different authorities who are saying it’s OK to call a blog post a blog. Here’s the problem: Not only are neither of these authorities to be trusted when it comes to the language of the Internet, but neither of them are really giving their imprimatur in the first place.
The first authority is, of course, Roger Angell. Now, with the highest respect to Angell as a master of just about all things written, he is not the authority I would turn to for the last word on the proper nomenclature for new technologies. His essay explains this better than I could. It is titled “This Old Man,” and it is about what it is like be 93 years old in a rapidly changing world. If we turned to self-proclaimed Old Men for the proper terminology for technological developments, we’d still think it was OK to call the Internet (capitalized or not) “the Internets.”
The second source Scocca cites is the copy desk of The New Yorker. Setting aside the fact that this is the same institution that prescribes spellings like “coöperate” and “reëlect,” there’s a more fundamental flaw in Scocca’s reasoning: He didn’t check with his source. Here’s what the head of The New Yorker’s copy department told me about using blog to mean blog post. Simply:
It is not our style.
Why, then, did they make this exception? “Angell was using ‘blog’ as a kind of shorthand in order to avoid saying ‘posted a blog post,’” copy chief Ann Goldstein explained. In other words, they only let it slide because the word post was already in the article. (I would have suggested “a post recently shared” or “a status update recently posted,” depending on the nature of those Facebook remarks. But that’s a different matter.)