26 October 2009

Say Everything -- The Review

JWT sent me this book by Scott Rosenberg on blogging's first 15 years. In part one, the author (former editor of Salon.com) goes back to the early days of online diaries and link pages. In part two, Rosenberg tells how technological advances (e.g., the simple interface of Blogger, which hosts this blog) led to an explosion of blogging. In part three, Rosenberg gets to the interesting stuff, the impact and future of blogging.

This readable and interesting book left me with these ideas:
  • Warnock's Dilemma, i.e., you may get no response to your blog post because:
    1. The post is correct, well-written information that needs no follow-up commentary. There's nothing more to say except "Yeah, what he said."
    2. The post is complete and utter nonsense, and no one wants to waste the energy or bandwidth to even point this out.
    3. No one read the post, for whatever reason.
    4. No one understood the post, but won't ask for clarification, for whatever reason.
    5. No one cares about the post, for whatever reason.
    I've considered all these reasons when wondering about the lack of comments on posts on this blog.
  • The internet has been hard on newspapers (classified ads have moved to Craigslist; weather, sports and business statistics are best viewed online), but magazines are also threatened. I agree with this thinking, and see how daily papers will be replaced by the continuous flow of news from the internet.
  • Is blogging journalism? Yes, indeed if it uses the same techniques of journalists (fact-checking, original material, analysis). In fact, I would draw a parallel with the academic world and ask this: "Is blogging academic?" Yes, and academic blogging (on "edublogs"? "Profblogs"? Some better name?) can not only be academic, but better than academic. Consider:
    • Blogs are faster to distribute and free to anyone on the internet.
    • Blogs allow commenting, conversation and corrections.
    • Blogs allow "infinite" exposition, linking to sources and debate.
    The only advantage of academic publication in journals is that such publications are peer reviewed by referees and editors, but that advantage is not exclusive to academic work -- it can work with blogs, and would -- given the speed and breadth of access and conversation -- work even better with blogs. In the words of Marc Andreessen: "It is crystal clear to me now that at least in industries where lots of people are online, blogging is the single best way to communicate and interact." We (academics) should keep this in mind as we debate the future of academic discourse. (Of course, Tyler Cowen is already on board.)
Bottom Line: Blogging is important to our culture and our intellectual growth. I give this book four stars for its thorough, clear and contextual explanation of the history and importance of blogging.

10 comments:

Ray said...

Contributing my knowledge to inform an entire region of alternatives DO EXIST to the destruction of the environment, groundwater resources, JOBS and water related industries in the Southwest achieveable through blogs.

By contributing historical, hydrological and legal background to your timely thought provoking water issues, I can hopefully help your readers convince the embedded politicians & bureaucrats that alternatives offer unexpected revenues, renewable energy and resource development that no one has mentioned.

I hear that meetings where the #800gorilla is mentioned are becoming uncomfortable ...

Thank you for providing a major means to a worthwhile end ...

WaterSource/WaterBank waterrdw@yahoo.com

Fixed Carbon said...

Scientific publications are converging on a similar set of values as blogs: open access, digital only, and relatively rapid publication. The PloS journals are a good example. Check 'em out, just Google PloS

Wainstead said...

I wouldn't worry so much about not getting comments outright... I rarely see comments at all on my water subreddit, but the articles get some upmods and downmods.

The unseen benefit in the Google age is that your blog posts turn up in relevant searches; your blog post could, at some future date, become a focal point. (I'm very much of the mind of Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody," and "What Would Google Do?" by Jeff Jarvis in particular).

George said...

More reasons:

--People don't read comments, for whatever reason (e.g., they may not believe comments can increase the breadth of the posted topic, or they may not even realize the comments are there)

--Having to sign in or create an account before posting discourages some people

David Zetland said...

@Ray -- glad to help :)

@FC -- yes, I've heard of PloS; thanks!

@Wainstead -- good point. (thanks google!)

@George -- I read YOUR comments :) -- and there's no need to sign in/do capcha here -- intentional decisions I made to try to maximize comments.

Four Mound Farm said...

I read all the posts and all the comments, including the students' posts and other guests' posts. My input is irrelevant and not needed anymore since 1) I don't live in California and 2) being unemployed and over 50 I am useless to the cause until I can make money again. Without work in town to connect me with the outside world and the "environmental" workforce, I am just a subsistance farmer with no gas money. Keep on truckin'David!

George said...

Dave, sorry for the wrong impression. I didn't mean YOU don't read comments, I meant READERS don't always read comments, may not be aware of the value of comments, may not be aware comments are there, etc., and therefore don't comment themselves.

David Zetland said...

@George -- I was giving you a hard time :). I agree that most readers don't read comments. (Many don't get past the title!)

David Zetland said...

@FMF -- You're not useless here! (I make nothing from blogging, but I still call it a "job" :) Keep commenting/teaching us!

DS said...

I got into economics and politics just by reading blogs. Started from Paul Krugman and ended up reading a whole array of informative, interesting, exciting blogs