Aug 252002

Since the word “blog” is scheduled to enter the Oxford English Dictionary its origins are now, officially, a serious matter. As everyone knows, it is a shortened form of “web log.” William Safire tracks it down to Jorn Barger, who created a “Robot Wisdom Weblog” in 1999. Not so fast. Barger always referred to his site as a “weblog” and never used the one-syllable version. In his September 1999 remarks about blogging Barger writes:

A weblog (sometimes called a blog or a newspage or a filter) is a webpage where a weblogger (sometimes called a blogger, or a pre-surfer) ‘logs’ all the other webpages she finds interesting.

Barger certainly doesn’t credit himself with the term blog here, although this may just be out of modesty. (Safire, if you read him carefully, never actually credits him either.)

For the word “blog” as we know it today Peter Merholz, who in April or May of 1999 announced on his home page that he was going to pronounce “weblog” “wee-blog, or blog for short,” seems to have a stronger claim. Merholz has discussed this with the powers that be at the OED, but they require a print source.

Yuk yuk yuk. Still, I see their point. The same flexibility that makes Web so easy to write for makes it the worst possible source for historical citation. I would demand a dead tree source myself.

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