Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Film Doctor's favorite books about blogging

As a person who has plenty of doubts and hesitations about blogging, I confess that I like to read books on the subject, in part because they tend to reaffirm one's choice to blog in spite of all of the good reasons to not do so. These books remind me of the Writer's Market series in the way they can promote what is for many people a questionable enterprise (the recent Writer's Market spends quite a few stunning pages recommending a career in the newspaper biz).

1) With Say Everything, co-founder of Salon.com Scott Rosenberg covers the history of blogging. He profiles many of the major players (including Justin Hall, Josh Marshall, Robert Scoble, Nick Denton, Heather Armstrong, Jason Calacanis, the creators of Boing Boing) and their ups and downs of blogging. Some notes from this book:

a) on page 102, Peter Merholz coins the word "blog" and notes how this "hideous" word is "roughly onomatopoeic of vomiting."

b) on page 114, Rosenberg takes pleasure in quoting from Greg Knauss's 1999 article "My Ass is a Weblog":

"Weblogs are a `revolution,' They're `journalism.' They're `art.' They're, again and again, the next New Thing. To which the only possible response can be: come on, people . . . . how can you not boggle at the level of self-delusion, of self-infatuation, it takes to declare that . . . the concept will be alive and well a decade from now? That weblog readership will increase a hundredfold in that time?"

c) on page 129, Knauss admits that he was "profoundly, spectacularly, epically wrong."

d) on page 174 Rosenberg quotes my favorite line from Samuel Johnson, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money," and then wonders "What was wrong with these bloggers--this army of blockheads?"

e) on page 288, some journalists' anger about bloggers: "Their volunteer rivals, they felt, were more than just suckers; they were tantamount to scabs, undermining secure high-paying jobs by choosing to labor under unfair conditions."

f) on page 317, Rosenberg notes that Nicholas "Carr has been building a thoughtful case against blogging since 2005--mostly on his own blog."

g) on page 318, to critics who claim that the internet negatively affects our ability to read longer articles, Rosenberg replies: "If you have read this far in this book, then you seem to have retained a good portion of your ability to read long-form prose"

h) on page 337, Nicholas Carr notes, "Shall no fart pass without a tweet?"

i) on page 345, Rosenberg claims that "the act of blogging is fundamentally literary."


2) The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, pieced together by the editors of The Huffington Post, is a little cheesy, name-dropping, and self-serving since it can easily sound like marketing for the website, but I enjoy its relentless cheerfulness. When they ask "Why blog?", they immediately answer "Why not blog?" I also like their "rules for great blogging":

"1) Blog often
2) Perfect is the enemy of done
3) Write like you speak
4) Focus on specific details
5) Own your topic
6) Know your audience
7) Write short
8) Become part of the conversation with like-minded blogs"



3. With Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, Darren Rowse and Christ Garrett appeal to one's desire to monetize. I got the impression that Rowse drinks an awful lot of coffee, but the book is full of practical advice, and I especially liked his discussion of the 20 types of blog posts--"instructional, informational, reviews, lists, interviews, case studies, profiles, link posts, problem posts, comparison posts, rants, inspirational, research, collation posts, prediction and review posts, critique posts, debate, hypothetical posts, satirical posts, and memes and projects."









4) In comparison to Blogging for Dummies (which I confess I did read without buying a copy at the local Barnes & Noble), Bob Walsh's Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them is perhaps the fanciest how-to guide for blogging that I know of. He looks at LiveJournal and Vox. He interviews the CEOs of Technorati and Feedburner for information about how their services can help bloggers. This book is a little too technical for my taste (or knowledge), but it is very readable and thorough.







3 comments:

MovieMan0283 said...

Interesting - I am only dimly aware of the blog literature out there (as opposed to literary blogs) but part of me wants to stay that way. There are enough areas in my life I'm self-conscious about - don't need to add another! I'm a bit frightened that years from now they will be teaching blogging academically with earnest students furiously type away at their laptops - blogging about learning to blog.

But I did enjoy this post, especially that fatuous quote which was, indeed, "profoundly, spectacularly, epically wrong." Ha.

Filmdr,

Your choices have been added to the master list of responses to my "Reading the Movies" post, to be found here:

http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/07/movie-bookshelf.html

Hope you enjoy.

JUS said...

I trust and hope that the good Doctor will forgive my picking up on only the crudest items in the list, but I must confess that I will find it difficult to ever hear the word blog again without thinking about vomit, nor am I likely to ever again fart without at least subconscious consideration of whether or not to tweet it.

Such is the power of the blogosphere, and I enjoyed the post very much.

FilmDr said...

Movieman,

I found that confessing to reading these books is a little like admitting that one reads self-help books or listens to inspirational tapes. At any rate, I'm glad that you enjoyed the post, and thanks for including my choices of books on the master list.

Thanks, JUS,

Funny how the sound of a distasteful word like "blog" can carry such significance. That alone might have blighted the practice for years.