You know what’s hard? Trying to define the word “blog.” Almighty Google says that blogs are “a website on which an individual or group of users record opinions, information, etc. on a regular basis”—super vague, but admittedly they have to be considering how many different sites are considered “blogs.” Seriously, it’s almost a Sisyphus-ian task trying to develop a definitive concept of the word “blog,” because by the time you’ve come up with a working definition, I guarantee that someone will have gone and done something crazily innovative online that forces you to back to the drawing board. Not that I’m complaining—I love that blogs evolve and morph so rapidly, because it’s amazing to see how these new forms of online communication impact how we think and act out in the “real” world. Below I’ve listed 15 of my favourite blogs that I’d like to recommend to A) those of you who share my research interests in evolving forms of communication and online representations of the self, with special attention paid to the use of visual rhetoric, and B) those of you who similarly think that LOLZ cats will stand the test of time.
BLOGS I MUST CHECK EVERY MORNING:
BuzzFeed – if I was in some weird scenario where it was up to me to save the world by choosing only one blog that I could follow for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. Why? Because it’s serious information (albeit with a liberal bias) balanced by an incredible sense of play. This is the launching pad of viral media, supplying readers with a platform to both comment on and spread the latest news, videos, memes, and political/social commentaries. You cannot get bored on this site – it’s constantly being updated and its use of (often hilarious) visuals to attract readers to stories is beyond brilliant. I’m an especially big fan of the “Shift” column. ALL HAIL BUZZFEED!
Cracked – a site that’s close to my heart. A liberal, intelligent, but unapologetically immature collection of articles that comment on everything from the financial crisis to gaming to zombies to every possible euphemism for sex that I could never think of. Aspiring comedy writers chat and abuse each other in the comment section, while others (…) just steal their idea to use hilarious visuals in order to make stories that much more readable, debatable, and flat out fun.
Flavorwire – I would like to be as cool and sophisticated as this blog one day. The focus here is cultural news and critique, meaning that if you like books, movies, TV, design, art, music, or anything else that kids these days classify as “cool,” you must check this site out. If you happen to live in the States, you should also make use of their “Flavorpill” site – an up-to-date guide to everything cultural happening in a city close to you.
Mental_Floss - the tagline for this site is “where knowledge junkies get their fix,” and ooooooh buddy do they deliver. The site is exploding with information that could make anyone a trivia champion, all of it neurotically edited and organized by a staff of Sheldon Coopers. Visually the site isn’t much, but its structure reflects the main goals of the site: to quickly provide fun information that you can share with others throughout your day.
BLOGS THAT WILL VISUALLY BLOW YOUR MIND:
Vlog.it – this is what I mean when I refer to the crazily innovative stuff that people are doing with blogs today. A random collection of one person’s favourite online videos (video log = vlog), this is a site that you can spend hours on either watching content or simply appreciating the technical work that’s gone into this visual experiment. Click the link, and prepare to ogle.
Pinterest – definitely not your typical “blog,” but as the fastest growing social media site where users literally “pin” visuals of the things that represent them in some way, it’s a fascinating and fresh new look at online constructions of the self. I once heard this site described as “fantasy football for women,” and after spending about 4 hours pinning my future dream house (I didn’t even know I wanted a cottage-y New York penthouse in the middle of a lake in the middle of New Orleans), I’m forced to say that the observation is rather apt.
Dear Photograph – an amazing Tumblr site, where people take photographs of photographs in order to recall a special, intimate moment in life, and then share them with the rest of the world. A really cool demonstration of the way the public/private dichotomy is morphing in a digital age. (Just in case you weren’t sure, Tumblr is another relatively recent example of evolved blogging platforms/techniques; technically it’s called “microblogging,” where you post things that are too big for a Tweet and too small for an entire post.)
Postsecret – yet another site where (MILLIONS) of readers go every Sunday for a voyeuristic cruise through other people’s artistically constructed secrets–and perhaps feel a little less alone when they see a postcard that they can relate to. This is a rare example of a blog that people recreate off-screen, as can be demonstrated by the crowds that public Postsecret events draw and the secrets that readers “post” in the real world in order to help bring people together in a community of shared pain and hope.
#whatshouldwecallme – a bit of a pick-me-up after the last link, this Tumblr site has never failed to make me giggle. It incorporates both Twitter hashtag culture and GIFs in order to create a series of humourous… I don’t even think there’s a word for it yet, so I’ll go with “brief images that hilariously connect to their accompanying text and it’s even funnier because everyone can relate to what they’re talking about because we’ve all had moments like that.” If you haven’t yet had the privilege, enjoy, and perhaps feel inspired to contribute your own!
BLOGS THAT MAKE ME THINK ABOUT STUFF:
TED Blog – the official blog for TED, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Imagine a place where you can go to hear leaders in the fields of technology, entertainment and design tell you about the cool stuff they’re working on, thinking about, and hoping to change the world with, all for free—that’s TED, and the blog gives readers up-to-date notices about future speakers while providing a forum for commentary by both TED staff and followers. The design is cut and clean, focused solely on the text concerned with what this blog celebrates: the communication of ideas.
i found money today – the tagline for this blog is “a social experiment in anonymous giving,” where followers are invited to “lose” money somewhere random, to take a picture of the anonymous gift, and then send the photo and the reasons why he or she decided to participate into the blog to be posted. The blog is steadily growing in popularity as people either read in bafflement, or feel inspired to go out for a walk while deliberately dropping a bunch of change. It’s like Pay It Forward, but literally, and with online documentation. Howzabout that.
Go Fug Yourself – this blog is unabashedly shallow, frivolous, and Mean Girls to the core—and that is why I love it, I think. Heather and Jessica have shot to blogger stardom with this site, where they joyfully heckle the poor fashion choices of celebrities everywhere. Visually the blog is a demonstration of “online success:” the content is framed with advertisements (including some for their SECOND book), popular posts and trending topics, not to mention the comments that often run into the hundreds. I’d like to say that I go to this site to study the horrible moral core that clearly defines today’s youth, but that’s a lie. Keep blogging Heather and Jessica, you two are hilarious.
BLOGS THAT KEEP ME UP TO DATE WITH ALL THESE NEW-FANGLED TECHNOLOGY TRENDS:
Official Google Blog - the tagline for this obvious choice of a blog is “insights from Googlers into our products, technology and the Google culture.” I say “obvious” because love or hate this company, Google has and continues to keep pushing technological boundaries, more often than not changing the world as they do so (have you seen those new glasses they’re developing?!). The blog is visually attractive with a simple white background but an advanced and efficient structure, much like the company itself.
TechCrunch – a geek’s paradise. I honestly don’t understand half of the things these bloggers are talking about (Bubble Motion? Photo Bumping? Spaceport.io? HUH? HOW?), but I tell myself that’s because I’m an English student and … yeah. Ok so I don’t get the “how” part of the conversation but I try, and the “what” part is most definitely exciting. Plus the blog is visually jam-packed with neat things to look at and click on—I’ll bet if you know what you’re doing with these “computer gadgets” you’ll have even more fun than I do.
Mashable – last but no where near least, this blog is one of, if not the, largest independent news sources online, dedicated to covering stories about digital culture, social media and technology. It has over 20 million unique visitors a month, making it the home of one of the internet’s most engaged online communities. Easy to navigate with clear categories and headlines, this site presents an overwhelming amount of information in a very simply laid out visual space.
Hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do!