The Man Is Gone, But Long Live The Blogosphere

The word blog, as typed on a typewriter i i
iStockphoto.com
The word blog, as typed on a typewriter
iStockphoto.com

Most bloggers I know don't much like the word "blog", and they have even less affection for "blogosphere." Blech.

Wikipedia says credit — or blame — for coining "blogosphere" goes to Brad Graham, a theater publicist and blogger in St. Louis who died this week at the age of 41. Look him up on Google and you'll see: "Blogosphere" is his legacy.

But thank goodness, Graham was joking when he first said it — at the very birth of the form — in September 1999. He, too, didn't much like the word "blog" — "Oy! That name!" he exclaimed on his site, Bradlands. And so he worried about where this would lead us: perhaps to jokes about "falling off a blog," or worse, "blogorreah."

"Goodbye, cyberspace," Graham wrote. "Hello blogiverse! Blogosphere? Blogmos?"

Well, blogosphere stuck.

But Wikipedia informs us that credit for "blogosphere" is also claimed by William Quick, a conservative blogger and novelist whose site does, indeed, proclaim: "Yes, I'm the guy who named the blogosphere."

Brad Graham i i

Brad Graham, a theater publicist and blogger died this week at the age of 41. He is credited with coining the term "blogosphere" on his site Brandlands. Courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Brad Graham

Brad Graham, a theater publicist and blogger died this week at the age of 41. He is credited with coining the term "blogosphere" on his site Brandlands.

Courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

I remember well the day — Jan. 1, 2002 — when Bill, our cyber-Adam in the digital Garden of Eden, named this beast. He reasoned that the root, "logos," follows the Greek for the principle governing the cosmos. Graham was joking. Quick wasn't — though he did concede in e-mail to me that alcohol may have played a role.

And the word "blogosphere" entered common usage — even on Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

But in the Internet age, ideas and words leave their creators and spread — and mutate — like fruit flies.

On the Urban Dictionary, I counted more than 300 words built on the root blog: blogalicious ... blogadoccio ... blogademia ... blogalization ... blogebrity ... blogarazzi ... blognoscenti ... blogarrific .. blogamy ... blogasm ... blogviate ... blogathon ... blogfluence ... bloggage ... bloggart ... blogistan ... blogophile ... blogophobia ... and blognesia.

The same dictionary, by the way, defines blogosphere as "a word created with the [sole] purpose to be the worst sounding thing ever, second only to the originating term blog."

But now I must confess my own sins. Back in the dawn of blogging — I started in September 2001 — a fellow blogospherian, Tony Pierce, turned his online diary into a book. I made the mistake of suggesting it should be called a "blook."

Jeff Jarvis i i

Jeff Jarvis is the director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of What Would Google Do? Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images
Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis is the director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of What Would Google Do?

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

I'm sorry, OK? I'm very sorry. Please don't include that in my obit. Don't etch "blook" on my tombstone.

I'm also accused by some of coining "Googlejuice," but I swear that's not my fault. I'm searching on Google now for someone else to blame.

To settle their dispute, Bill Quick and Brad Graham held a cordial discussion in blog comments in 2002. Quick conceded provenance of "blogosphere" to Graham. But Graham gave Quick credit for popularizing it. Besides, Graham said he preferred "blogmos" anyway.

Graham also said he'd rather be remembered for another neologism: "pentropy," defined as the contraction of the universe that causes ballpoints to disappear from your desk. Pentropy: It's all yours, sir.

Jeff Jarvis is the director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of What Would Google Do?

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