Warblogs, Tekkies, Journalists

The first attestation that I can find of “warblog,” or its suffixed forms “warblogger, warblogging” is in Matt Welch’s 9/18/2001 3:06 post, where he uses the form “war blog.” Welch essentially defines war blog in his introduction to the sub-site he titles War Blog: “discussion of the crisis triggered by the Sept. 11 massacre.” The term war blog and its related forms have evolved to mean a web blog inspired by the events of September 11, 2001, whether or not the blog is itself primarily about September 11, or war. In general such blogs do tend to be overtly political. Dave Winer has published his own definition here.

I’ve already posted about the derivation of “tekkie” or “techie” from the same Indo-European root that gives us both text and technology, and a host of other related words. I find the term “tekkie” somewhat offensive. I’ve certainly had it applied to me by academics who should know better; it is, I suppose, marginally better than the other term I often hear—”computer person.” It is in part those attitudes that inspired me to describe myself as a digital medievalist.

The nascent controversy between “war” bloggers and “tekkies,” is, as I’ve indicated previously, somewhat half-witted in concept, and would appear to have been constructed by journalists who do not understand the history of their own profession.

Theirs is a profession born from the union of technology, in the form of the printing press, and war. People needed a way to communicate news efficiently over great distance, more efficiently than a single town crier or herald, or Irish bard carrying scela or “tidings,” could do. Within 25 years of Gutenberg’s press one-sheets crudely printed with the latest scoop (based on a letter) about Columbus were circulating in Barcelona before Columbus arrived there. America’s first newspaper was largely a source of war news and gossip, much like those in Europe. At first news items were culled from private correspondence and day-books, or journals; later publishers contracted with travelers for detailed correspondence to be “repurposed” and printed in the newspaper. In a sense then, web blogs are a return to the roots of journalism.

Berkeley offers Blogging Class

According to Wired, the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism will offer a class in blogging next fall. The class will be taught by John Batelle, who co-founded Wired magazine, and Paul Grabowicz, the school’s new media program director.

This of course, intrigues me mightily. It also gives me hope that I can manage something similar at UCLA. There’s one particular faculty member I know of who I really must get to take a look at blogging. It’s got such enormous potential for composition, in English or in other languages, or writing in general.

OK, I was Wrong: it’s War Blogger vs Tech Blogger

Thanks to Doc Searls and Eric Raymond, I realize my error. The question was one of war bloggers versus tech bloggers. Doc points to Dave Winer, who writes:

I was interviewed by a BigPub reporter yesterday asking if it was true that the warbloggers had obsoleted the tech blogs. A weird question, because I wasn’t even aware that there was a concept of “tech blog.”

Well, shoot, where does that leaves us humanists? The librarians and attorneys, and heck, even the medievalists and Celticists?

The fact that someone thinks this false dichotomy is even an issue reminds me of the old joke about there being two kinds of people in the world.


I’ve added a link to my /”neighbors/” over there on the left, or you can see my weblog neighborhood here. It’s a new tool added to Radio. This is a Good Thing.

Why, you ask, is this A Good Thing? For a variety of reasons, including courtesy to the hardworking bloggers I read, to let them know that they are doing A Good Thing. But an even better reason is that allows me, and you, to find sites and blogs we did not know about, and would like to, and even should.

Already I have newly subscribed to Future of the Book News, the blog of a really neat site that I didn’t and should have known about.


I’ve started using, or trying to use the Story feature in Radio. Writing the Story was fairly simple, and submitting it was equally clear. I’d like to add a link to the story I just wrote to my Navigation links on the left. It’s listed in the Story page , but clicking the link there points to my local file, not the one on the web. Supposedly if I use the name of the Story in double quotes like this “About this Blog” Radio will transform it into a link.

Well, that worked. Now, in order to get the link and add it to my Navigator settings, I went to the page and copied the URL. There’s probably a much smarter way to do it than that, but it works.