Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters" by Scott Rosenberg

I first heard about Scott Rosenberg's "Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters" from a BusinessWeek review of the book and found it to be an excellent book on a few different levels.

Book Content

The beginning of the book details some of the early blogging from people like Justin Hall... along with his "dark night" blogging sign-off video. From this point, Rosenberg goes into the "warblog" movement out of 9/11 and rise of political blogs. The influence of these has been significant ranging from the blog Little Green Footballs helping call into question the "60 Minutes" piece on George W Bush and his National Guard record to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo blog helping both fight off the Bush plan to kill social security & bringing to light the Alberto Gonzalez scandal around firing Justice Department lawyers.

Also featured in the book is the blog Dooce from Heather Armstrong. Sitting firmly in the "narrative life story" blog category, this blog author became famous for being fired from a job due to her blogging about it. From that point, she's written some very personal stuff that's at the same time very funny (and it's cool that "getting dooced" has since become the descriptive phrase for someone getting fired as a result of their blogging.

From this same influential blogger category, I found interesting mention of Robert Scoble and his video on how to scan through 600+ RSS Feeds daily.

Additionally, there's detail given by Rosenberg as to some mechanics that have helped blogging become so successful. The range from the “last in first out” (or "stacking") principle of blog postings to features such as Permalink, Trackback (or Backlinks in Google Blogger) and RSS Feeds (which were of course mentioned above).

Another area that's touched on towards the end of the book is around the introduction and subsequent popularization of Social Media sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Rosenberg's theory (which seems sound to me) is that these sites don't signal the end of blogs as the intent and execution of them is so different than that of blogging. The new Social Media forms can almost be considering a telephone type communication in that they're about short form communication and contact with others. Blogging on the other hand is about a longer form publishing of thoughts. There is of course some blend between blogging and Social Media in each direction, but also differences.

What It Meant to Me

Everything above describes the book and it's contents... good things for sure to have in any review of a book. Below, though, I want to touch on some of the things that struck me while reading and I "may very well" carry forward.

The basic concept I took is that there's so much that could be done with a blog. There could be important political discourse, could be insightful and profound narrative, or could simply be thoughts and ideas about things of import that a blog author wants to pass on.

I particularly enjoyed mention from Rosenberg's book about the blog Boing Boing. The statement of the blog is "A Directory of Wonderful Things" and Rosenberg's discussion is around how the four blog authors really enjoy doing the site. At the end of the day, that should be the reason that someone writes a blog and whether it "becomes a hit" isn't as important (and especially isn't as controllable).

I also was fascinated by the personal narrative quality of Dooce. I'll have to see what direction my writing takes me, but am interested in spending time on and exploring this "personal narrative" writing. As long as it's done with the best quality I can muster (after all, a blog is a written record (or "resume" in work terms) and I'm enjoying writing it, things should work out just fine like.

Finally, back to the book... solid read and further details can be found on Rosenberg's blog and his "Say Everything..." book website.