MICHELE NORRIS, host:
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
Today, we mark the passing of a man who's credited with solving a linguistic problem: What do you call a bunch of blogs? His name is Brad Graham.
Commentator Jeff Jarvis is a blogger and author of the book "What Would Google Do?"
Mr. JEFF JARVIS (Author, "What Would Google Do?"): 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.
I remember well the day, January 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 had been joking, Quick wasn't. Though he did concede in an email to me that alcohol may have played a role in his inspiration.
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, blogamy, blogasm, blogviate, blogophile and blogophobia.
The same dictionary, by the way, defines blogosphere as, quote, "a word created with the sole purpose to be the worst sounding thing ever, second only to the originating term blog."
But then again, a friend theorizes that having cute, approachable names is what made blogs- and Google, Twitter and Yahoo - successful. It humanized cold technology.
And 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. I'm sorry, okay? I'm very sorry. Please don't include that in my obit. Don't etch blook on my tombstone. I'm also accused of creating Googlejuice, but I swear that's not my fault, and I'm searching Google right 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.
NORRIS: Jeff Jarvis directs the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. He blogs at buzzmachine.com. He was remembering Brad Graham who died this week.