Rewriting the rules

John Naughton‘s Observer column on ten years of blogging is a delightful read:

This openness to immediate criticism and/or rebuttal is another revolutionary aspect of blogging. What we are seeing, wrote Clay Shirky some years ago (available online at, is nothing less than the ‘mass amateurisation of publishing’. What’s happening is a radical shift from the old ecosystem in which publications (newspapers, magazines and books) are filtered and edited before being published, into a world in which anything can be (and is) published.

All that remains is for English departments in universities to start studying blogging styles, for example the way in which accomplished online writers use hyperlinks. If you read the work of established bloggers or contributors to slick online publications such as Salon or Slate what you see is a move from having hyperlinks clumsily embedded in a document to the use of links to provide an ironic counterpoint to the main line of the piece. It’s all very, er, postmodern. But what do you expect? It is 2008.