When is a blog not a blog?

by Steve Watson in February 2009
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It’s simple and beautiful and ideal for reading on the way into work – it’s a year’s worth of blogs turned into a newspaper. Compiled by Russell Davies and Nick Hand, ‘Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet 2008’ is 32 pages of newsprint packed with their favourite blog posts of the year, ranging from short notes to long considered pieces, and including big colour pictures and even the entire Twitter life of the Mars Phoenix Lander.

The mix of long and short works perfectly in newspaper format, and it’s all pulled together with a simple, understated design that can’t help but make you think differently about the blog posts themselves. I’m still not sure why I feel differently reading text that has been designed and printed – is it just because somebody’s bothered to go to the trouble and cost of printing it? There’s definitely an element of that here, and I also like the fact that it’s an edited selection and executed so professionally, but it feels like there’s something else going on and I can’t put my finger on it. I certainly wouldn’t be as excited by the same content if I read it on my iPod Touch.

Either way, it’s a fantastic idea, and one that I’d love to see more of. I wrote in my last post about how Stack is one way of rethinking the conventional business model that is currently failing magazines, and Russell raises some interesting questions about how to make print profitable (or at least viable) when so many people are now able to publish themselves.

Print isn’t dying – it’s changing. On the back page of the newspaper Russell and Nick say that they were attracted to newsprint as a medium partly because it’s so cheap. I’d love to pay £1 a week to have the best of the internet brought to me in paper form – I wonder whether there’s a workable business in there?

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