In the comments in Jarvis and Spiers on Weblogs
, there is a conversation about the meaning of the words "publish" and "broadcast" in the context of weblogs.
This is a hard question, of course. If you are writing about technology, you can use English words, but you have to deal with the multiple meanings that come with them -- "community" has a dozen meanings, making it very hard to write about clearly. This problem gets worse when you are also writing about media, as you get overloaded meanings from pre-internet patterns, where "publish" is for print and "broadcast" is for TV. This can be confusing in a world where both the NY Times and MSNBC have web sites.
The alternative, though, is to use existing jargon or invented terms of art, which is often worse. My usual strategy has been to try to write in English, and to situate words with slippery definitions in context, but reading the comments in the earlier piece makes me think it may be worth defining the terms explicitly.
For the record, and as a way of trying to start a conversation on these patterns, here are my definitions of publish and broadcast.
*Publish* -- A pattern where the recipient of a message or piece of content does not have access to the same audience or message format as the sender
A publishing vehicle privileges one author over other participants, in other words. By this definition, email lists, whether via CC line or mailing list software, are not publishing media, since any recipient of a message can reply in the same format and medium, to the same audience. Most usenet groups are not publishing media, for the same reason.
By contrast, mass email to the BCC line, or *.announce usenet groups, _are_ publishing media, since I can send you a message in those media, and you can't reach the audience I sent it to.
This is why I contend that weblogs have publishing as their first-order pattern. If it's your weblog, you post to your audience, but your audience can't post to one another through your weblog. Even if you have comments on, those are less visible, and obviously separate from the main posts. Only you enjoy the full control of the publishing capabilities. (Contrast the evenness of messages and replies on mailing lists and usenet.)
Publishing can support conversational patterns, of course, if a group of people publish to one another, but even in tight clusters of people who read one another's work, the audience isn't shared, If you read my blog and I read yours, and one day your audience doubles, mine does not. (Again, contrast what happens when the number of subscribers on a mailing list goes up.)
*Broadcast* -- A pattern where the sender of a message or piece of content has minimal or no interaction with the recipients
Broadcast is the one-to-many pattern, where readers or viewers at the edges take in content from the center, but where the publisher at the center takes in almost nothing from the edge.
The broadcast pattern is a subset of the publishing pattern, in other words. Broadcast requires publishing, but not all publishing is broadcast; as in the weblog world, some publishing can be conversational. Broadcast also does not require scale; publishers can chose not to interact with their audience even at scales, as with the bore at the dinner party. (Note that this definition clashes with the idea of broadcast vs. narrowcast, where audience size, rather than topology, is thought to be the distinguishing characteristic.)
However, scale does require broadcast; beyond a certain point, a publisher cannot maintain a meaningful interaction with even a fraction of their audience, because of the limitations of time and attention. Even if Oprah loved each of her 10 million+ of viewers, and even if a single minute of her time constituted, for them, a successful interaction, and even if she did nothing Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 but talk to members of her audience a minute at a time for a solid year, she could still only reach 1% of them.
Publishing, in this view, is a technological pattern. Broadcast is a choice at small scale, and a forced move at large scale. Small clusters of friends on LiveJournal publish conversationally to one another. Dave Barry, by contrast, does not have that choice with his weblog -- of necessity, he both publishes and broadcasts.