February 19, 2006
Every walk of life and field of endeavor generates its own insiders' lingo. Those of us in the MSM — that's the superannuated, archaic mainstream media — have our own jargon, of which the first sentence of an article is the lede, the early edition is the bulldog and the guys working into the wee hours make up the lobster shift.
Some of our special vocabulary is being stolen from us by the denizens of the world of Web logs. Above the fold — the top half of a standard-size newspaper page, where the major stories begin — now, in "blargon," is what we see on a blog's screen before we begin to scroll down. The jump — the continuation of an article on an inside page — is now a place to which the blog's readership is referred inside the Web site. A sidebar — which we fondly remember as a boxed, related article alongside the main newspaper article — is, to a blogger, a column down one side of the screen displaying advertisements, archived links or a list of other blogs called a blogroll. Even the reporter's byline, that coveted assertion of journalistic authorship, has been snatched by the writers derogated as "guys in pajamas" and changed to bye-line, an adios or similar farewell at the end of the blogger's politely expressed opinion or angry screed. (The prevailing put-down of right-wing bloggers is wingnuts; this has recently been countered by the vilification of left-wing partisans who use the Web as moonbats, the origin of which I currently seek.)
But what of the original terms being bandied about in what became known at 12:54 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2002, as the blogosphere, when William Quick posted the coinage on his blog, Daily Pundit? The name blog is universally described as "short for Web log," but Jason Goldman, product manager for Google's blog-host Web site, Blogger, says that its meaning is different: "A Web log was and is 'a log of requests that comes into a server'; it's the domain of techie people and no fun to look at. But blog, though coined from 'Web log,' is a word open to all sorts of linguistic play that has taken on the meaning of 'a personal web page.' "
That means it is time to send the world a ping about the link love or memes available to be tagged, as well as a friendly tip on deliciousing.
A ping is not just the word for a sound anymore. It is also an acronym for "packet Internet gopher," a program that tests whether a destination is online and can also be the gently noisy notification sent when a blog needs updating or has been updated. Link love is "an unsolicited, posted link that aims only to amuse or interest." Other blogophiles call it linky love and stress a more intimate sense of reciprocity: "to link to another blogger because that person has linked to you." One who carries this yearning for online linkage to extremes is called a link slut or worse. Bloggers do not treat this as prurient, nor is "the discovery that some other blogger has posted an identical thought at the same time," which they call simultaneous blogasm.
"A meme is a type of online chain letter," explains Teli Adlam, a glossarian at blogossary.com, "where bloggers answer questions designed to give a quick overview of the blogger's personality." The author is then supposed to tag — that is, to induce — other bloggers to participate by answering the same questions. Tag, as a noun, is a descriptive label applied to an individual post.
Delicious, though an adjective in standard usage, is both a noun and a verb in blargon: Adlam defines it as "a social bookmarking service that allows users to share their bookmarked sites with others. To del.icio.us someone is to add them to your delicious bookmarks. Many bloggers strive to make it onto the del.icio.us front page (otherwise known as being popular)." This has led to the verbal noun or gerund deliciousing.
The darker side of the Web cannot be ignored by the blogerati (meaning "people sophisticated in operating blogs," derived from digerati out of glitterati, all three bottomed on literati). Even MSM types know what spamming is: that was first reported in 1991 as the mischievous swamping of a network with unsolicited postings, and today denotes any unwanted messages in e-mail as well. Biz Stone, author of the 2004 "Who Let the Blogs Out?" informs me that dotted is the word used to describe any site that is sending out bursts of traffic. It is rooted in the practice of the Web site Slashdot to send traffic to another site by linking to it. The recipient of all the traffic is said to be slashdotted. Stone defines spam blogs, splogs and zombie blogs in his glossary as "these strange animated robot-generated texts meant to game search engines. When it's published as unwanted feedback on people's blogs, it's called comment spam."
This brief survey — a labor of link love — was conducted by means of blogging. Thanks to the blogerati who shot my query around the Web asking for jargon, a solicitation that N'Gai Croal, technology editor at Newsweek, calls blegging. He also notes "Another good blog term is to fisk, from Robert Fisk, a U.K. journalist. That's when you take an article and reprint it on your blog adding your line-by-line critique. It comes from bloggers doing that to Fisk's work, and now you'll hear 'That was some fisking of Bush's State of the Union.' "
Monday, February 20, 2006
William Safire had this on the language of the bloggers: