BlogicBlog: View from the trenches

The blog about Java and XML with focus on troubleshooting issues and tools.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Book review: 'Blog' by Hugh Hewitt

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I blog. Obviously! But I felt that an influential blogger like Hugh Hewitt might give a good overview and write a book worth reading. Boy, was I mistaken.

This book is squarely targeted at non-technical, right-wing, religious Americans who don't mind being sneered at. Anybody else should try to avoid it.

For that Anybody else group, here is couple of reasons from the book itself (emphasis mine).
  • An audience test that really should have been on the book's jacket and not on the page 88 of the book:
    Most of America knows that elite journalism is staffed by people who are overwhelmingly way-left-of-center in their politics. If you don't believe that America believes that, or you want to argue over what 'way-left-of-center' means, you have purchased the wrong book. You are still living in the land of the lost and don't want to move, so go buy Al Franken's or Michael Moore's latest and miss the revolution.

  • Hugh seems to think that contempt is a good thing to demonstrate to prove your point:
    Barbra Streisand is a blogger. A not-very-bright one, but a blogger nonetheless. (p 128)

  • I am also not so sure Hugh was the right person to advise on how to setup a blog. He freely admits to not knowing the technology, but the following quote shows that maybe the editor should have insisted harder on a technophilic co-writer.
    I am still unsure what an RSS feed is and have trouble making the permalinks work - but it does not matter!
    RSS is so important in having a blog read and indexed that sacrificing it for whatever easy to start a blog point Hugh had was in my mind a terrible choice. He has an RSS feed on his own website - four types actually - so he has denied others what might be contributing to his own success.

  • Nearly all of the examples are given based on political or religious blogs. Are the technical blogs not worth a mention? Or is the technical community is just not a target for the book because they have already figured all of this out? Either way, mentioning a blogging CEO like Jonathan Schwartz would have carried Hugh's point much further than the argument in the book did. In fact the only real mention of the technological company is Technorati, which Hugh is plugging quite often.

  • Even the practical advice does not seem to ring a bell for me. For example:
    So how to go about making friends in the blogosphere? Here are some specific steps.

    First, acquaint yourself with the form, and having done so, decide who genuinely does a good job, who meets your information needs. Then tell them. Via e-mail. Repeatedly.

    The word SPAM comes to mind. I am not sure why. Maybe it is the Repeatedly bit that seems to imply rejection at first attempt.

  • The section on what to do when one is convinced to start blogging is interesting, but unfortunately, it is barely 20 pages long. Couple of good articles would have done it better.

  • Finally, there seems to be no mention of the long tail market which allows for so many people to blog about interesting things that are not politics or religion.

Those were the reasons that really made me to write this review. People with stronger political views and sharper tongues actually pick on different points.

Still if I haven't convinced you, maybe the book is for you. It is currently available at Amazon at 60% discount ($8 down from $20). This is quite telling all by itself. After the Amazon takes its own 20% cut - which is another $4 - there is not much margin there for the author to make any money of the book. To me that means that the real purpose of the book was to further increase Hugh's fame rather than to really educate the audience. Caveat emptor!

BlogicBlogger Over and Out


At August 15, 2005 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the real purpose of your blog?

At August 15, 2005 9:13 PM, Blogger BlogicBlogger said...

Wow, that's a very vague question. I could fill a couple of long blog posts with what the real purpose of my blog is.

But here are two primary reasons:
* I believe I have some technical knowledge from my tech support work that not many developers have been exposed to (at least not to the same degree). I like sharing it.
* I need more writing practice and blog is a perfect way to do that.

And of course I have a long tail of other reasons, but I am not going to describe it here.

Does that answer your question? Or did you expect something else? If you don't ask precisely, I can not really answer.

BlogicBlogger Over and Out


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