Blog by Hugh Hewitt
Blog, by Hugh Hewitt, is a combination history lesson and look into the future, as the patron saint of the blogosphere demonstrates the impact of blogs on the political landscape. He begins simply enough with an outline of how blogs have had a tremendous impact on media and reporting, including a discussion on the four big stories of the blogosphere."
Hewitt points out that the first blog appeared in or about 1999, and since then some four million blogs have hit the Internet, forever changing the way information is disseminated around the world, much like the impact of Gutenberg with the first movable type printing press had centuries ago.
The four big stories of the blogosphere are: Trent Lott ouster, Raines and the NY Times, Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia, and Rathergate, all of which received immediate and in-depth coverage in the blogosphere, focusing on the facts, and, in the case of the Dan Rather's report on G.W.'s Texas Air National Guard service, proving that the documents used to support the 60 Minutes 2 report were forgeries, made using modern computer technology, specifically Microsoft Windows.
The book is full of comparisons between how the blogosphere is changing the shape of media and reporting to the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther. The blogosphere uses the latest in technology and the Internet (which has been around for a comparatively long time) with its means to quick and easy self-publishing to revolutionize communications, just as the printing press was used in Luther's time to quickly print and spread the 95 Theses nailed to the church door at Wittenberg to the populace, thus triggering, more than anything, the Protestant Reformation. Changes in technology are having this same impact today, along the "Information Superhighway" of the Internet, just as Luther changed the religious world, with the aid Gutenberg's printing press, forever changed the means by which books were reproduced (no longer by hand, but massed produced) and brought literacy to the masses.
The use of comparing the blogosphere and its impact on modern communications and reporting is frequently compared to the Protestant Reformation and the moveable type printing press. Hewitt hits the nail on the head with this comparison, as it was the beginnings of mass book production that enabled the Reformation to gather steam and spread throughout Northern Europe. It was also due to the printing press that Luther was able to have the bible distributed to the masses in their native languages, be it English, German, Danish, or any other language. Hewitt also mentions in his book an effort to translate the bible into Klingon (hey, got the obligatory fandom reference in!). (The Klingon Hamlett translation project was wrapped up a few years ago with a successful print run.)
There are, as Hewitt points out, millions of blogs, however, there are only a few big blogs, sites whose traffic is measured in the tens of thousands per, and the vast majority of blogs make up what is referred to as the tail. Some 90-95% of blogs fall into this category. The tail is not to be ignored, as they help drive stories around the blogosphere, and many are worth reading.
There are also many statistics in regards to blogs and blogging, who blogs, why, and rate of blog abandonment, the experimental blogs where many people test the waters before plunging in (I had an experimental blog myself, before going all the way with my long time fandom site, and morphing it into something that is still fannish, but much more).
Hewitt gives credit to many bloggers that have helped usher in this information revolution, and gives warning to those who ignore, or discount, the impact this new media will have (and is having) on society.
Since the publication of Blog, we have since seen what may be the first ever Blog-O-Thon for charity, where Captain's Quarters raised thousands of dollars for World Vision to provide relief to the people hard hit in the tsunami that struck in the last days of 2004. The bloggers have proven that not only are they capable of quality journalism, seeking truth, verifying facts, but also capable of coordinating efforts to help those in need.
Hewitt is one of the most ardent, and vocal, supporters of blogs, inspiring many of today's voices on the web with his commentary on radio, thru mentions on his blog, and the occasional Vox Blogoli, Hewitt's open invitation for bloggers to swarm around a specific topic, which has given many lesser known blogs some well deserved attention.
There are references to many fine blogs worth reading, and a section where Hewitt documents responses to a survey he ran on his own site during the preparation of this book.
Blog is an excellent book, packed with a lot of history on the development of mass media, and the direction it is moving to. Pick it up, give it a read, and then, if you feel the urge, go out and start a blog and see for yourself what blogging is all about.