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The Weblog Handbook : Leading resource for bloggers

Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook may have been published in 2002 but Rebecca’s wisdom and insight are still timely for new bloggers. I still remember early 2004 standing in Seattle’s downtown Border’s when skimming through a chapter got my heart racing to go out and start LexBlog.

From Rebecca’s blog I stumbled into a wonderful recent review of The Weblog Handbook by Tom Morris. Tom makes clear Blood’s book is a good fit for both current bloggers and prospective bloggers — an education in the ways and whys of the blogosphere.

Other blog books will tell you how to set yourself up with a Blogger account and teach you exactly what a Trackback is. If you’d bought a book about writing, and it spent the first chapter explaining to you what a pen was and how to use one, then went on to tell you that when you write you start at the left side of the page and progressed to the right hand side, then moved down to the next line, you’d feel a bit, well, swindled. …

Instead, Blood covers the real hows and whys of blogging – the real big proper questions like ‘where the hell am I going to find time to write all this shit?’ (a rather rough paraphrase) and ‘why, oh, why am I doing this?’ and the suchlike. This is important. Explaining blogging to anybody who is intelligent enough to be able to possibly be a blogger is easy. If you can send an email or post to a message board, you’ve got all the technical skills to maintain a blog.

But the weblog is more than just some HTML on a page – to say that it’s just a webpage is to be entirely fatuous and to risk the scary label ‘reductionist’, something which is misapplied by just one too many a Guardian columnist, and nothing but tears results. Dave Winer describes it as ‘the unedited voice of a person’, and the prevalence of the weblog has led so many other people to describe it as something akin to an ‘electronic diary’……Blogs, to the mainstream, are diaries, preferably written by freaky or offbeat characters who may or may not be real (and that’s a really, really, really interesting question), and who have outlandish and gossipy stories to tell. Hence Belle de Jour, the raunchy call-girl with the French day-naming and the ‘is she or isn’t she?’ rubbish that filled the papers for, well, however long that little ruckus went on for. Hence the equally juicy ‘moral panic’ angle MySpacers and LiveJournallers who are taking their kit off and baring their underage flesh for all their online buddies to gawk over.

Real bloggers, the type which Blood writes about, rarely get such press attention….The real blogs are written by real people like you and me, and we talk about stuff we’re interested in, and we have opinions. Why would anyone want to fake this blog? What possible advantage would there be for me to be a ‘faker’ – perhaps someone could doppelgang my moderate libertarianism or penchant for acoustic instrumental music? But, of course, why bother with issues when non-issues are so much more interesting.

Like Tom says, The Weblog Handbook “Cuts through the utter bullshit and tells you how to be a blogger. And for me it induces big dreams…”

Thank you Rebecca for lighting my fire. And thank you Tom for this review. I took too much of your post but wanted to motivate my audience to get the book.

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