The Blogging Spectrum 8 August, 2006 — Stuart Brown
An alternative classification system for the blogosphere
The blogosphere is a diverse place these days - and according to Technorati it's doubling in size every 6 months. Little wonder then, that there's a blog for every imaginable niche, profession or topic going out there. But where do they fit on the grand scheme of things?
I've taken one approach here, by mapping the different types of blog to that most familiar subset of the electromagnetic spectrum, the visible light spectrum, spanning from infra-red to ultra violet.
Obviously there are any number of ways to categorize the multitude of blogs out there, but I have elected to go for a continuous scale, based primarily on the type of content prevalent on blogs. At the red end of the spectrum are link-posting blogs, primarily links to other content and media, and at the violet end are blogs that deal purely in original research and thinking, usually consisting of original written articles.
On the diagram below I've marked off a few notable blogs, and the area roughly where they would fall under these classifications. The individual components (or strata) in the spectrum are covered in depth below.
Beyond the red end of the spectrum are those sites which are not technically classified as 'blogs'. These consist primarily of links to other sites with little or no comment. These sites can be in the form of a directory, or just a list of links - they are not part of the blogosphere themselves, but are close neighbours to some link-oriented blogs.
Example : Web Developer's Handbook
The red section of the spectrum contains blogs which consist of a large percentage of reposted material - links, mainly. Such sites can be very popular, and some blur the line between news sites and blogs - although sites in this part of the spectrum tend to be light on original writing.
Example : MetaFilter
Example : InstaPundit
Blogs in the orange part of the spectrum form a considerable part of the 'glue' that holds the blogosphere together - Boing Boing, for instance, is one of the most popular blogs out there.
The content is primarily link-driven, with a link to an external site or blog of interest, but some interesting commentary will accompany the link, distinguishing this strata from the red.
Example : Boing Boing
As we enter the yellow part of the spectrum we start to see sites which have more varied content - usually a mix of links, pictures, and some original text. Most personal blogs reside in this area, although some other forms of blog, such as photoblogs and cute image blogs (see example) reside in this category.
Example : Cute Overload
Green blogs represent middle of the road blogs - a mixture of media, again, with some links, videos, pictures, and an increasing amount of original text. A lot of company blogs and more serious and established bloggers reside here, directly in the middle of the spectrum.
We also see an increase in commentary and opinion in the blogs here - personal blogs with a political bias can be found here, as well as some editorial journalism.
Example : PostSecret
Example : Michelle Malkin
In the blue part of the spectrum, we see the rise of original articles and commentary - review blogs are prevalent here, as well as howtos, tutorials and other such original content.
Example : LifeHacker
Example : Engadget
As we progress through the spectrum to indigo, we see original articles, usually more lengthy and in-depth than those in the blue or green strata. We see a high percentage of technically oriented blogs here, too - even some personal blogs who post a lot of original, tech-oriented articles may find themselves here.
Example : Gizmodo
Example : Digital Photography Review
At the end of the blogosphere spectrum, we find technical-biased original articles and research. These blogs are usually the source of a lot of links from the red end of the spectrum - providing interesting and original content for later digestion and reposting. Sites in this strata are often authoritative sources in their own particular niche.
Example : Google Blog
Example : A List Apart
As we leave the blogosphere, we can find those sites which aren't blogs but boast impressive research and original articles - the scientific and academic communities. Project websites and science-oriented research sites will be found here, and whilst they don't take the form of blogs, they do share commonalities with some blogs found at the violet end of the spectrum.