Today is probably going to be a two-post day, since a bunch of us at TR are going to see Episode III this afternoon, and I’ll have to core-dump my impressions when we get back.
However, in keeping with two promises I made when I started this blog, I’m going to talk about two things: Warren Ellis, and online community technology.
For those who don’t know, Warren Ellis is a British science fiction writer working mostly in the medium of comic books. He has quite a devoted following, which he keeps in touch with via what I would call a “push-blog” and what he calls an “e-mail journal” titled Bad Signal. You can subscribe to it in the upper left hand of his Web page.
Yes, I said subscribe. What’s really going on here is Warren is blogging–usually via a wireless PDA from his favorite local pub–but instead of posting his entries to a Web site, they go right out to an e-mail list of about 5,000 fans and media journalists. Other than the publishing medium, this “newsletter” is otherwise indistinguishable from a blog. There is no regular publishing schedule (sometimes you actually get overhwlemed with hourly deliveries when Warren goes into a manic phase), and Warren talks about whatever he’s done that day or whatever he finds interesting, or what upcoming projects he’s working on.
I call that a blog, except that it follows the push model of being brought to you, rather than the pull model of waiting for you to go to it. Thus, its a push-blog.
I realize that almost every blog system (including TR’s) has RSS export, so technically almost every blog is a push blog, but I don’t think anyone would argue that RSS readers have the market penetration of e-mail. There’s a LOT more push behind an e-mail. Moreover, Warren doesn’t archive the Bad Signal online (other than in hardcopy; you can buy his first year or so of entries in paperback form), so your only way to get this stuff is via the e-mail list. (He actually maintains a separate conventional blog, which is not for the faint of heart.) That adds to the push.
Now, Warren is a minor celebrity, and he’s actually producing work in a medium (comics) that needs all the promotional help it can get, so maybe his push-blog is an exceptional case, but I can’t help wondering if he isn’t on to something with the format. Just a thought.