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All information current as of 14:49:47 Pacific Time, Saturday, 12 March 2005.

We've Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture

   by Editors of Perseus Publishing / Rebecca Blood

    Perseus Books Group
    09 July, 2002


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Editorial description(s):

From Library Journal
A weblog, or blog, is a frequently updated online personal journal. Boasting a foreword by Blood, a web consultant and creator of Rebecca's Pocket weblog, We've Got Blog is a collection of 34 essays that explore this rapidly growing trend. Contributors include such noted bloggers as Joe Clark, Cameron Barrett, and Giles Turnbull. The discussion covers the history and community of weblogs, contrasts weblogs and traditional journalism, and offers advice on starting a weblog. If you have been following weblogs for the past few years you've probably come across many of these articles online, but having them available in one collection gives them context. A glossary and good references round out this well-edited anthology. Blood's enthusiasm for the subject carries over to her own work, The Weblog Handbook, which is not the do-it-yourself technique book you might expect. Instead, Blood takes on the role of mentor; she's been there and done that and has much wisdom to share. She is eager to convert readers into bloggers and offers good advice on finding one's voice, observing etiquette, and living online. Unfortunately, a lengthy afterword that focuses on the culture of weblogs seems a better fit for We've Got Blog. Appendixes offer a brief glimpse of creating a test weblog and working with links, but this book is written for someone who has flirted with the idea of starting a weblog and feels comfortable jumping right into the format. These titles are unique, as the publishing world is just catching up to the subject of weblogs. (Look for similar publications in the near future.) Both books are suited for public and academic libraries, but smaller public libraries might want to hold off to see whether a more practical do-it-yourself guide on blogging emerges. Academic libraries are advised to add We've Got Blog. Colleen Cuddy, New York Univ. Sch. of Medicine Lib.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Read Magazine, Summer/Fall 2002
"An exceptionally fun read and a great look at blogging from those inside and outside the scene."

Book Info
An introduction to the phenomenon of Weblogs-online journals and diaries--and the people who keep them. First book to explore this phenomenon, which has been quickly rising from obscure Webpages to national attention in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Book Description
An introduction to the phenomenon of Weblogs--online journals and diaries--and the people who keep them.

Instantaneous and raw, unedited and uncensored, Weblogs are self-publishing at its best and its worst--occasionally brilliant but often pretentious, sometimes shocking but always fascinating. We've Got Blog is the first book to explore this phenomenon, which has been quickly rising from obscure Webpages to national attention in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Weblogs are free, searchable journals of opinions and links updated daily by an individual or a group and they have become some of the hottest Websites. We've Got Blog has pulled together some of the best writing explaining their history, the mavericks who created them, and how they are changing the way we use the Internet.

Reader review(s):

Just read some blogs instead, September 6, 2002
I like blogs. I think they are a nice example of technology coming around to meet the way people interact. For years we've said that the secret to a web site was to keep refreshing the content, so people would want to return. The difficulty in keeping content fresh was as much a technological problem (the annoyances of editing, publishing, etc. both at home and on the road) as well as psychological (what needs to be updated, what do people want to read). The blog is to the 2000s what desktop publishing was to the 1980s: expanding publishing tools out to more people. Will everyone write a blog? No. In the 1980s, not everyone wrote a 'zine (although it started to feel like it at times). The comparison continues, as early 'zines suffered from overuse of fonts and design elements that blogs now mirror in incompatible HTML coding and stylesheets. None of this takes away from the very real power of allowing people to publish their writing faster, quicker, and better.

I feel I must say this so that you understand that my negative reaction to this book is to the book itself, and not the book's subject. We've Got Blog is a mishmash of articles, mostly (if not entirely--I couldn't tell) reprinted from blogs themselves, that tries to define blogs, why they are important, and how they may affect the future of journalism and the Internet. A few of the articles are well-written and interesting; most, however, suffer from their origins in that they seem quite ephemeral and off-the-cuff. Despite the "solution" to do links in the originals as endnotes, when you read text in a book that lacks the immediacy to check out the links, something is lost. If anything, the book truly makes it clear the difference between print and screen. Most of the articles seem strange because of the very ephemeral nature of how they were originally published, how putting them in a compiliation removed them from the very time and place that they were meant to be. This is especially true of the extended conversation about MetaFilter from MetaFilter that ends the book, where the banality of the conversation overwhelms the permancy of acid-free paper.

I'm 0 for 2 in reading books about blogs (I wasn't much impressed by Rebecca Blood's handbook, either), but I remain committed to the medium in spite of this. We've Got Blog is useful for the historical record (although the Internet Archive probably could have provided this as well), but we're still waiting for the book that will truly help codify what the fuss is all about.

Read them online instead., October 23, 2002
It's not that the essays in this book are bad. Most of them are either entertaining, interesting or illuminating. But they're ALL availble online, and are frankly better reads online, with links and design and context. Yes, the book presents a new context by presenting the articles together, but the only context provided is Rebecca Blood's preface, which is fine but not startling. The editors are apparently so ashamed of this poor (and possibly successful; I paid up) attempt to make money on the popularity of blogging that they haven't even put their names to the book.

A let down, August 29, 2002
Basically, this is a book of essays about weblogs, many of which I had read before, as well as read blurbs on other weblogs which linked to these essays. I felt rather let down by the book, as I had the impression that these would be heretofore unseen works by the First-Gen Blog Darlings.

Perhaps the only people who'd get anything out of it would be rank newbies who just want to know what all this blogging business is about. People who are already "in the know" should probably steer clear and get "Small Pieces Loosely Joined."

Have you blogged today?, August 20, 2003
This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me-
The simple News that Nature told-
With tender Majesty

Her message is committed
To Hands I cannot see-
For love of Her - Sweet - countrymen-
Judge tenderly - of Me

--"A Blogger's Anthem" (actually a poem by Emily Dickinson, c. 1862--change the "Hands" in line 6 to "Eyes" and it fits rather nicely.)

Well, the novel is dead or dying, I forget which, and there's no cinema in Hollywood, and TV's still a wasteland, and pro wrestling's fixed (yes, sad), and the news is biased, and I don't need no stinkin' make-over, etc. So why not blog?

Is it an ego trip? Cheap psychotherapy? Pathetic? How about an exercise in futility? Or a way to know for sure how meaningless your life really is? (And a way to document same?)

A new art form? The new New Journalism? A synergistic combination of link and commentary? Open letters to the world? A great adventure in self-discovery? A way to make friends and influence people?

Judging from this book which serves as a spiffy, if limited, introduction to the world of blog, all of the above, I would guess and something more. In fact, anything at all. Link and ye shall know. Write and somebody might write back.

There's a Glossary. It's short. The first word I looked up ("filter") wasn't there. That's my test. I read a technical word in the text that I am not sure about and I flip to the Glossary. I do this three or four times. If it's there, good Glossary, otherwise not. There are footnotes. All are URLs. Cute.

And there are chapters. In six parts: A Brief History; Meet the Bloggers; Blog, Blog, Blog; Advice; Weblogs vs. Traditional Journalism; and Community. Neat. Each chapters is written by a different blogger including Rebecca Blood, who wrote the Introduction, and Weblogs, A History and Perspective. Here are some examples of the most interesting chapters:

Weblogging: Lessons Learned by Kulesh Shanmugasundaram whose dicta include: "Content is everything." That's a duh, but a Great Big Duh. And "Having ten million hits is not the game plan. Having 10 regular readers is a home run."

The Libera Manifesto by Chris Pirillo, whose words of wisdom include: "Most of us seek recognition, not fame" and "Opinions aren't wrong."

Metascene's Ten Tips for Building a Bionic Weblog. His style is lively, snappy, a bit of a controlled hard-boil (and foul-mouthed), but somehow mature, and includes this gem: "Once in a while remind yourself that just because it happened to you does not necessarily make it interesting."

Put the Keyboard Down and Back Away from the Weblog by Neale Talbot. He gives an example of a Blog Style Journal and a Journal Style Blog, and comments, "I'm not sure which one is worse." (Actually both are great. See page 158.)

Tim Cavanaugh's Let Slip the Blogs of War has the virtue of pointing to what might be expected of a lot of blog text: it's political. The political fires are what motivate some bloggers to blog. "The weblog is not the most useless weapon in the War On Terrorism," he writes. "That title is still held by the nuclear submarine." (p. 189) Clever, but I think he's wrong. The decentralized exchange of opinions that blogs offer may be exactly what we need, the fact that the blogs that Cavanaugh read were pretty much lockstep jingoism, notwithstanding. There are other opinions that go out to the world.

What is wonderful about the blog is that it allows almost anyone to have his or her say (with the hope that somebody might be listening). Yes, the journalism is mostly somebody else's (but often there's a link); and as an art form the blog is in its infancy--although some bloggers would surely say the opposite, that blogging is already a mature art form (measured at the speed of webtime), and out there in Cyberspace, already quietly perfecting their art, are the Shakespeare and Botticelli of blog. And they aren't necessarily A-list.

Or is blogging possibly a way to fame and fortune? Will it be possible some day to make a living as a blogger? Ah yes, a tenth of a cent a hit cometh your way. Ten thousand hits a day = a hundred dollars. (I just wish they would charge even a tenth of a penny for each e-mail. That would hit the spammers where it hurts.)

If nothing else this book inspired me to check out the blogs themselves. I was expecting some pretty amateurish stuff, but the ones I looked at were easy on the eye and fairly well composed and edited. They combined links with commentary. Many were political and some were obviously biased, but that is to be expected. If you take the time to surf I suspect almost anybody will find a blog that appeals.

Ironically this excellent little book makes the point that blogging is another example of the decentralization of the publishing world. This is a semi-official acknowledgment that the commercial publishers are watching. Where blogging will lead is anybody's guess. Maybe someday everybody will have a blog, started from youth and continued throughout one's life. Instead of a resum� or a formal introduction, you will send the URL to your blog. And you will be judged. And possibly loved.

As I Blogger Myself I Found This Fascinating, November 28, 2004
For the first time in months I have read a book cover to cover, and it is We've Got Blog.

I am a blogger myself ( and this book helped me clarify what it is I have been doing for the past year. There are some weaknesses in this work, but even so I highly recommend it.

The book provides alternate definitions of what is a blog. A useful one is that a blog is a chronologically ordered, regularly updated website that is primarily the work of one person and contains a high number of regularly updated, chronologically ordered links to other sites. The links and the other ordered chronological material are often contained within the same short piece of micro-content.

I am not sure what micro-content is. The phrase pops up in the book but is not explained.

We've Got Blog focuses on diaristic blogs or blogs in which the blogger blogs about whatever is of interest or about a very broad topic. But there are many tightly focused blogs. (Mine is for liberals who oppose a certain nominally-Democratic politician and his machine in a single congressional district. How is that for narrowcasting?)

The book rarely discusses topics of specific relevance to single issue blogs. It devotes great space to people who have diaristic blogs and want to have other diaristic bloggers like them and link to them. For single point-of-focus blogs this concept is irrelevant. Often we are the only blog dealing with a subject and there would be no one to link to us even if we cared for them to do so.

Some of the material in this book is already dated. The book describes the blog, but when I visited it I got the impression that it has not been updated for a year. When some of these essays were written Google was not the overpowering presence that it is today. It would have been nice to see some discussion of how Google placement affects blog.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Within 24 hours of purchasing this fairly thin volume I had read it in its entirety, and for me that is the highest praise that a book can earn.

Jonathan Mark

A book without a personality, September 27, 2003
I had such great hopes for this book. The list of contributing authors reads like a "who's who" of blogging, and I really enjoyed headliner Rebecca Blood's "Weblog Handbook". Alas, I was to be disappointed. This book is not a grand collaborative effort but merely a collection of unrelated essays, interviews and weblog posts. Some of these articles were new, some were familiar, some were intriguing, some were dull or inconsequential. Worst of all, these articles are mostly available on the web for free, And there's not even a linking paragraph of new content between them. One of the distinguishing characteristics of weblogs is that each rings with the individual tone of the author. Jumbling a bunch of such differing styles together made my head spin.

I find it hard to imagine anyone who will get full value out of this book. Most people will find some of the articles informative or inspiring but also find some a waste of time. A book to check out from the library and dip in to, but not one to keep and cherish.

The origins, trends, and pros and cons of weblogs, December 7, 2002
The editors of Perseus Publishing's We've Got Blog also explore the new trend of self-published web-based logs and journals. Weblogs are self-publishing at its strongest - and its worst. This explores the origins, trends, and pros and cons of weblogs.

Interesting, but not filling, August 29, 2003
I was hoping for a more in depth look at what blogs mean to our culture, to the net, etc. This book doesn't really provide that. While most of the essays collected here are interesting, it doesn't provide a huge amount of point or commentary or new info. Good read though.

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