I read too fast. This was an immediate problem from the start; the children’s library told me I was a troublemaker, because I was the only kid who wasn’t happy with only 5 books a week. By the time I hit Junior High, I had read every book my parents owned, more than a thousand books. And, being gabby, I had opinions to share on everything I read. So, by definition I was a blogger 30 years before I owned my first computer. And I learned to appreciate a book good enough that I could go back and read it again, and pick up new stuff. Milton is that good, so is Zelazny, and so is Hewitt. As in Hugh Hewitt, whose new book “Blog” may be fairly described as a must-have.
OK, so it’s no shock that bloggers will like “Blog”. But this book not only reads well, it’s a primer on planning your future online. Hewitt covers a brief history of blogging, noting that in five years, blogs have grown from the first few to over four million now. Along the way, we’ve seen the development of blogs which read like diaries or magazines, to blogs about specifics in the latest news, technical details, and insightful commentary to rival (or simply thump) anything the networks can offer.
When you get your copy of “Blog” (you will be very happy, I promise), among the things you’ll find is a list of some of the best blogs currently out there. Basically, if you come across a site you haven’t checked out, give it a few minutes. There are lists all through the book, from the Preface through the appendices. And Hewitt puts the whole thing in perspective right from the start. In the Introduction for example, Hewitt notes “The blogosphere is about trust ... None of us have time to understand everything, so we have to trust surrogates.” This is important, because that used to be the case with the TV networks and newspaper syndicates; when they betrayed that trust, the blogs were able to fill the void, because there is immediate feedback and consequence. If a blog tries to snow you, you will figure it out and move on to one of the many others. You’ll only stay with a blog when it eans your respect. Informational Darwinism at work.
Hewitt is very good at maintaining balance, noting accomplishments by Wonkette and Andrew Sullivan on one hand, but also Little Green Footballs and Captain’s Quarters on the other. The interplay between the Old Media and the New, often turning into an effective rout by the blogs, is covered, from the Jason Blair scandal, through the Swift Boat Vets, and of course Rathergate. The history Hewitt is writing will be taught at colleges by next year. Hewitt writes about the Information Reformation, comparing it to Luther’s Reformation of the Church, and provides some key insights in the historical trends present, in the 16th Century and now.
Of course, Hewitt made mistakes, calling the TV networks and newspapers by the already passe’ “MainStream Media (MSM)”, while many blogs are already taking up the clearer Old Media/New Media delineation. And when he covered Rathergate, Hewitt failed to give proper credit to Lorie from Texas for the name. Hewitt also leans just a bit too much in favor of the blogs already out there, forgetting the lightning-strike rise that so many blogs make in their creation. But overall, “Blog” is a first-class work, especially where Hewitt identifies key opportunities and trends for industries and entrepreneurs to grab, before someone else does. It’s more than a little like someone telling you in 1975 to keep an eye on that Gates kid.
Maybe the best Chapter in the book is Chapter 13, which gives pointers on how to start your own blog, with vital do’s and don’t’s for the just-starting blogger.
Buy the book.
Read it again, with paper and pen for notes.
Pay special attention to the Appendices.
And if you’re like me, you’ll be glad to find out it’s just as good the third time through.