Friday, April 29, 2005

BLOG: Required Reading for Today's Information Consumers

My first post promised a Blog flog; here it is.

Hugh has divided his book into three parts. The first section is a brief historical review of the rise of print and the recent rise of blogs and how each movement has influenced the course of history. The second section takes a look at the state of blogging today and how the proliferation of blogs is fundamentally changing the way that people look at current events and the ways that they get their information. The third section presents a strategy for businesses to use the blogosphere to promote their products while simultaneously protecting themselves from blogospherical attacks. Not to be overlooked are the two appendices. The first reprints some of Hugh's columns on blogs and bloggers; the second shares many comments and insights from readers who have written to Hugh.

When I reflect on the book, four things really stood out. First, blogging is for everyone, or perhaps, Everyman. Hugh is a consistent and forceful advocate of blogging for the masses, and he deserves great credit for inspiring many bloggers (including me).

Second, the concise review of some major stories shaped by the blogosphere: Trent Lott's remarks on behalf of Strom Thurmond, The New York Times' Jayson Blair scandal and editorial staff shake-up, John Kerry's "Christmas Eve not in Cambodia" episode, and of course Rathergate.

Third, for those who are still skeptical of the spectacular fall of the MSM, Chapter 4 ("There's a New Sheriff in Town") should be committed to memory. From television ratings to newspaper circulation figures, Hugh presents and analyzes hard data to develop a compelling case for why the MSM should be mortally fearful.

The fourth thing I took from the book was Hugh's exploration of the mechanics of the phenomenon known as "blog swarms". This really struck home due to this phenomenon's resemblance to the mechanics of the next great technological revolution: nanotechnology. I can't recall if Hugh drew the comparison to nanotechnology, and a quick review of the book didn't yield any results. My apologies if not properly credited. I had not thought of blogs in those terms before, but the concept of distributed tiny units networking together to accomplish a goal is as astonishingly simple as it is effective. The link above has some fascinating reading on the state of nanotechnology today. For a look at a potential darkside of nanotechnology, try Michael Crichton's Prey.

For anyone interested in blogs and blogging, or just news and opinion, Blog should be considered must-reading. You don't have to slog through a tome of great learning to gain insight. Blog is a pretty quick read, and the time investment can pay off handsomely for anyone willing to follow through on Hugh's command to "start now"!

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