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Blogs vs. Zines

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When the LA Alternative Press asked LAist to write 400 words "In Defense of Blogs" for a sidebar for their Blogs vs. Zines article, I did, somewhat reluctantly. I was once a Zinester: I spoke on zine panels, a zine sent me to SXSW (twice). But I stood up for blogs. Well, the paper didn't print my sidebar; instead, they used parts of it in the article; the issue is not yet online. Here it is, with actual links. Zines, try that.

The only thing you can’t do with a blog is read it while sitting on the toilet. Well I guess you could, but that would be kind of gross.

As a reader, you can find blogs about everything: literary analysis, political gossip, show reviews, bad celebrity fashion, personal tales of knitting and cats. All the news that’s not fit for the NY Times to print? Somebody is blogging it.

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For writers, publishers, photographers and more, a blog is the easiest way to get what you create in front of people. When I was an editor at the Fizz, it took us two months to do all the editorial, layout and production of our newsprint zine. A multi-contributor blog can do that process in a single day, and individual contributors can publish their own pieces once they’re ready. An individual with a blog is a whiplash-fast publishing machine.

As much as zines try to reach out to people with shared interests outside of the mainstream, blogs make this so much more fun. People link to each other’s blogs, leave comments when something they read strikes them as funny or lame. Communities are formed – one blogging tool, LiveJournal, seems to be little more than an enormous high school with cliques that pass notes all day. And the people that use it love it.

Even grown-ups blog. Businesses are blogging, journalists, filmmakers, people who’ve run for governor have blogs. With comments and linking, debates ensue, dissidents find new outlets, romances blossom, political allegiances develop. Soon there can be peace in the Middle East! Blogging will save the world!

OK, that’s getting a little carried away. Blogging is merely a means of production, one that could easily be eclipsed if a new tool for people to quickly, easily and cheaply share their writing (photos, audio, videos) digitally with others comes along. What’s cool is that blogging has given license to people to create, people who didn’t create before.

Today, we share blogs online, but in the future making versions that can be downloaded — like podcasts and vcasts are now — will likely be the cat’s meow. Maybe you’ll be able to read/listen to/watch that blog while you’re sitting on the toilet after all.