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Everyone knows it. The weblog both is and isn't new, is both better and worse than its antecedents. Let's stop the feverish whispering about 'new' media. The basics never change: keep it clear, short and important.

by Greg Bryant

I wrote giant, epic-lengthed articles for Rain magazine in the early 90's. But I eventually withered, defeated. Comprehensive analysis takes forever, and saps your strength. I couldn't publish a quarterly magazine this way. So I switched to small essays. Then I switched to vignettes, snippets and drops.

Look at publishers of the past. In the 17th century, a single editor/writer could print a weekly, one-page broadside, and be influential.

How did they do it? Half the answer is small pieces. Whether diary entries, tiny tales, news blurbs, gossip ... even an article didn't need to be comprehensive. An editor could append little bits of material to an an essay, after it made its main point.

And that's the other half of the answer: each piece must make a point. We're not very good at that.


One must have something to say, before setting pen to paper. If it's true, then concentrate, and make it quick. Everything else is supporting evidence, news, or cute commentary. And so should follow, as addenda. (Like I'm doing here.)


All this talk is useless without an example:


A weekly one-pager from 1682.


Couldn't be simpler.


Straight news. By date and origin.


And a little advertising in the back

This could be done in a blog. The recent "Pepys Blog" makes this point with theatre. In the long run, concentrating on the medium leads nowhere. It will be abused, a slave to fashion and flash and style. And people will move on, searching for something real. Searching for any medium, used well.

January 31, 2003

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