Trail Blazers and Web Loggers

It is fascinating to see where publicly displaying one's lack of knowledge can lead. The true etymology of “blog” was brought to my attention by Bix. Jorn Barger's 1999 FAQ on “Weblog resources” first coined it as such:

A weblog (sometimes called a blog or a newspage or a filter) is a webpage where a weblogger (sometimes called a blogger, or a pre-surfer) 'logs' all the other webpages she finds interesting.

What struck me about the definition here is the task – web logging. The posture resides on setting out first. Being the first to navigate. Being first to surf. All to help others maneuver more easily across the web.

55 years prior to Barger, Vannevar Bush intuited a similar kind of work in “As We May Think”:

There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.

Though using different language, the trail blazer of Bush is doing the same thing as the web logger of Barger. Both help others traverse large bodies of information by creating referable resources.

And I don't think it is a coincidence that we are still doing this now. Logging is the way we not only retain knowledge but create entire domains of knowledge from which others can build upon. It reminds me of what Bush thought the (web) trails of such people could mean to others:

The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world's record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.

Who knows what scaffolding we could be erecting for people. So let us thoughtfully blaze our trails and log our web.