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The Weblog Handbook 183

genehack writes "Long-time weblogger Rebecca Blood's The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog is an excellent introduction to the currently white-hot world of weblogs. Blood covers all the bases, from a history of the weblog form, through starting a blog of your own, and finally onto finding (and retaining) readers for your site. The book doesn't offer as much for the veteran blogger, but even the bloggeratti won't go away completely empty-handed -- Blood's weblog history provides a valuable common vocabulary for debating what is and isn't a weblog, and her discussion of weblog ethics should be required reading for anybody who claims to be serious about their weblogging." Genehack's review continues below.
The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog
author Rebecca Blood
pages 195
publisher Perseus Publishing
rating 9/10
reviewer genehack
ISBN 073820756X
summary great introduction to world of blogging, which also offers valuable info for the experienced blogger

Blood begins the book in the obvious place, with a discussion of the history of the weblog format, and a functional definition of what a weblog is (and isn't). One issue with the word "weblog" as it is currently used is that it means little more than "website with time-stamped entries arranged in reverse chronological order". Blood attempts to expand on that definition by pointing out that the other thing weblogs have in common, in addition to chronological formatting convention, is "the primacy of the link":

"It is the link that gives weblogs their credibility by creating a transparency that is impossible in any other medium. It is the link that creates the community in which weblogs exist. It is the link the distinguishes the weblog -- or any other piece of online writing -- from old-media writing that has merely been transplanted to the Web."

One of my primary objections to this section of the book was the contradiction between the above position and Blood's inclusion, earlier in the same chapter, of "blog"- and "notebook"-style sites under the weblogs banner. "Blog"-style sites, in the book's taxonomy, are the nano-journals that showed up in the wake of easy-to-use tools like Pitas and Blogger. These web-based weblogging applications made it easy to let the world know when you were getting up from your desk to go pee -- and thousands of people jumped at the chance to do just that. "Notebook"-style web sites, on the other hand, are characterized by longer chunks of content; they tend to resemble essay collections more than anything else. Both types of sites are markedly different in content and authorial intent from the traditional "filter" style weblogs -- collections of links, annotated with short (or sometimes not so short) descriptions, reviews, or reactions.

Indeed, the former two styles of sites seem to be to be fundamentally different than the latter style, primarily in the extent to which they're inwardly versus externally focused. "Filter" weblogs link almost exclusively to other sites, and they link heavily -- usually averaging at least one link per entry, if not more. "Blogs" and "notebooks", on the other hand, have a much lower frequency of external linking, and are much more self-referential and insular than "filter" style sites. The three sorts of sites share similar formats and are produced with similar tools, but I would argue that referring to all of them as "weblogs" makes the word so generic as to render it useless as a description.

My quibbles over these taxonomic issues aside, The Weblog Handbook's introduction and definition of the "blog", "notebook", and "filter" terms to refer to the various sorts of sites that are collectively known as "weblogs" is a valuable contribution. Hopefully these words will be adopted by other writers in subsequent discussions of weblog history and form.

Blood moves on from the initial historical overview to a discussion of why someone would want to take the time and make the effort to start and maintain a weblog. She covers all the main bases: improving writing skills, improving thinking skills, and networking for personal or business reasons. This chapter might help you think of some new way to leverage your weblog to your advantage, but otherwise it struck me as somewhat redundant -- presumably, if you're interested enough to undertake reading a 200 page book about weblogs, you're interested enough to try running one for a week or a month and see what benefits you get from the exercise.

The next pair of chapters cover setting up a weblog. The target here is the new blogger, and depending on your level of technical sophistication, you might find the coverage a bit simplistic. Nevertheless, these chapters contain sound advice about choosing tools, about some of the conventions of the weblog community (permalinks, archives, sidebars), and about the all-important step of choosing a name for your weblog. After covering set-up, Blood dives into the business of actual creation: how to start writing weblog entries, and how to get better at it over time.

Blood also covers strategies for attracting and retaining readers, tempering those tips with the sage advice that webloggers that are constantly striving to get more readers will never be happy with the reader population that they currently have. This is one of the more critical points that the book has to make, in my opinion, and Blood does a good job of driving home the notion that there are better (and easier) ways of becoming famous than starting a weblog.

The sixth chapter, covering weblog community, ethics, and etiquette, is one of the book's most important. New bloggers that read this section will learn how to avoid offending established webloggers while they are starting out in the community. Bloggers that heed Blood's rules for ethical weblogging may even avoid getting sued for libel. Additionally, Blood deserves further kudos for making this section of the book freely available on her website.

Blood rounds out the book with some miscellaneous advice about maintaining a regular update schedule for your weblog, the wisdom of keeping some modicum of privacy for your off-line life, and the issues over making an email address publicly available -- opening yourself up not only to contact with your readers, but also with every spammer in the universe. None of the material in this chapter will be novel for the experienced web surfer, but Blood's thoughtful treatment is a good introduction for the neophytes that are still out there.

The book finishes up with a trio of appendices. The first covers an actual session with a particular weblog application; the second contains some practical Elements of Style-style advice on creating "linktext" -- the actual words inside a hypertext anchor; and the third offers information on the mechanics of running a weblog -- selecting a web hosting provider, buying a domain, analyzing log files, and so on.

The Weblog Handbook is a well-written, well-rounded, thoughtful introduction to the art and practice of maintaining a weblog. The author, Rebecca Blood, has taken her years of experience gained maintaining her own weblog, boiled it down into concise nuggets of information and advice, and then presented it with a vigor and enthusiasm which clearly reflects her love for the weblog form. Recommended for novice and old-school webloggers alike.


You can purchase The Weblog Handbook from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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The Weblog Handbook

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:18AM (#4409534)
    Someone should really clean that up.
  • by Sneakums ( 2534 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:18AM (#4409537)
    Behold the superior reviewing technique on display in the Pigdog Journal review [pigdog.org]!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seriously. 99% of the blogs out there are ridiculous ego trips.

    Why would I care to read your stupid rantings? Why would I care to get my daily news from someone with as much authority on the 'news' as myself? Are we so in need of entertainment that our ravenous hunger for material has necessitated the development of individual publishing?

    Don't get me wrong, that individual publishing exist is a beautiful, beautiful thing. However, the blog phenomenon is about as interesting as reading other peoples checkbooks.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:27AM (#4409589)
      Why would I care to read your stupid rantings? Why would I care to get my daily news from someone with as much authority on the 'news' as myself? Are we so in need of entertainment that our ravenous hunger for material has necessitated the development of individual publishing?

      But do you have the time to find all the news on every subject you're interested in? I know I don't (busy posting here!). For example, I'm interested in Google, but I don't have time to find all the news on Google (not Google News), so I visit the Google Weblog [blogspace.com] and find the news there. Same thing for PHP, I can visit php.com and zend.com but I don't really have time to visit all of the other sites, so I visit PHP Everywhere [weblogs.com].

      Could I find most of the news they do? Sure. Is the news all theirs? No, most of them are full of links to other news sources. But, since so they're interested in this news topc, over time, they can become "experts" on it themselves.
    • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:32AM (#4409624) Homepage
      Why would I care to read your stupid rantings?

      You seem to have no problem reading Slashdot -- the mecca of "Stupid Rantings" (though I haven't seen Katz in a while).

    • My god, you are so right. I've read a few WEBLOGS casually (the word "blogs" sickens me for some reason, makes me think of mucus originating from the nasal cavity. I know a couple of weblogs online and I never read any of them religious, just peeking once every few months in the hope of seeing a suicide letter or something else that might be entertaining, but most of them simply contain the most insignificant crap imaginable.

      I'm not going to complain too much about it, I'm not wasting my time looking at someone stroking his or her[*] ego or wasting money on hosting. If people insist on reading weblogs, they can go right ahead. But for the love of all that is holy, some people simply do NOT care at ALL. Trying to force your own weblog upon everyone in every imaginable way is not good publicity and it will eventually lead to one guy trying to DoS your hosting company by putting up a link on slashdot.

      * = Remarkeably, the ratio out male/female webloggers is completely out of sync with the ratio of men/women, where there are FAR more women weblogging then one would expect. Curious.

      • * = Remarkeably, the ratio out male/female webloggers is completely out of sync with the ratio of men/women, where there are FAR more women weblogging then one would expect. Curious.

        It's not that strange, given (grounded in reality) stereotypes about how women tend to gravitate towards technology's communication enabling sides.

        I think all the anti-blog ranting here is really kind of funny. And by funny I mean stupid. Look, I'm as fond as a good goth/poetry teen angst blog as the next guy (which is to say not at all) but foaming at the mouth about 'em, or challenging the justification for the book's existence (look; she wanted to make a buck, there might be people into the subculture or needing a friendly introduction to make it worth their while) -- especially on a group-effort-blog like Slashdot-- is silly.

        Some people write blogs to chronicle their own history for themselves, but make it public to either keep their writing level up, or because a small group of friends might be interested.

        Like many other good things on the 'Net, the hype will (has, actually) die down, and Blobs will find their place as part of the landscape.
        • Hmm, got a few good points there, though I feel like I should add that I don't hate logs with a passion, despite the general tone in my last comment. I don't like weblogs but I don't hate them either as they are just a hype that's dying out already. I can't say weblogs will be missed from my side, though there probably are a few good ones in existance. (Any weblog that never involved cats, shoes or an ex.)

          But I have to disagree with you that slashdot is a group-weblog. Slashdot is more like a new-commentary system where a bunch of people can read and give their opinions about the latest event in several areas of interest that are considered "geeky". It'd be a true weblog if we'd have to read about Taco's last movie, his wife's pregnant cat and the latest news on the divorce settlement of his sister and be unable to comment.

          • But I have to disagree with you that slashdot is a group-weblog. Slashdot is more like a new-commentary system

            Well, that goes back to the distinction between "filter" blogs and "journal" blogs...I consider this [memepool.com] and that that [boingboing.net] to be blogs as well, but more about links ala the filter type. Slashdot also is link centric...and given all the ranting and raving that takes place on the comments boards, it's even more journal-bloggy than the other sites, where commentary plays at best a secondary role.

            I think there's a rather untapped potential for the blog format in the professional world. I think that kind of comments page, but where anyone can take the central soapbox, might be very useful in certain medium or large-size product teams.

            I'm no big fan of the "this is where I went for lunch today" blog, but for better or worse, blog is a large-ish umbrella term, with some very promising parts.
      • You and the parent poster are missing the point.

        There are three reasons a relatively sane person (and I'm giving you some credit here) would read a blog:

        (1) It's written by a personal friend, so the reader actually cares what's going on in that person's life. (This is the case most of the time.)
        (2) It's exceptionally well written, so that it attracts random people who don't know the writer.
        (3) The reader doesn't understand the purpose of blogs, and is loading up random insignificant blogs by people he doesn't know, finding them uninteresting, and as a result plans to tell the world that all blogs suck.

        So, considering you fall squarely into case number 3, you are perfectly right to decide not to waste your time with blogs.

        But since you're ranting and complaining on Slashdot, the time is already wasted.
    • by Salamander ( 33735 ) <jeff AT pl DOT atyp DOT us> on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:58AM (#4409779) Homepage Journal
      Why would I care to read your stupid rantings?

      Why would you care to talk with your friends? Because they might have insight or perspective that you find interesting. A weblog is nothing more (or less) than a way to express those same thoughts to many of your friends at once, without repeating yourself, and putting those thoughts where other people can also find them if they want to (or not, if they don't). Why do you have a problem with that?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        A weblog is nothing more (or less) than a way to express those same thoughts to many of your friends at once

        Bloggers have no friends.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think that a lot of the people here are missing the real point about keeping online journals. It isn't about getting other people to read it. I could not care less if no one ever read mine at all. The point is to have a place to talk about your life, what you think, what you feel. It's about having a way to express yourself without having to worry so much about the details of form and content.

      There is a reason that therapists encourage nearly all of their patients to keep journals. They are important and valuable tools for coming to understand yourself. Posting it online simply makes it easier for you to access it without carrying around a large paper journal, as well as allowing you to say 'publically' things you aren't ready to confront off line.

      Is the medium perfect? By no means. It is however, worthwhile. As another poster noted, there are far more women writing these than men. If you have a problem understanding women sometime, I suggest you spend time thinking about why we are so much more likely to keep online journals. It may help you understand a bit more about what is important to us.
    • And why did you read the Secret Diary of your big (little) sister? Right, that's what I thought!
      Well, this is about the same thing. A lot of people write for themselves, not for an audience. That other people can read what they wrote and eventually comment is just a bonus, not a necessity. Here is an example [slashdot.org] of these kind of people who write for themselves. I admit it's not always entertaining, but hey, *your* life isn't that great either you know.

    • by goldenfield ( 64924 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @10:56AM (#4410165) Journal
      YOU may not care about my blog...

      But my friends and family all over the world DO. I used to send out mass emails to my whole address book. Blog allows me to have a bit richer content, add photos, whatever. The people that DO want to know what I'm up to like it. Thats all I really care about.
    • Here's the problem with personal blogging. Most of the people keeping "journal" style sites (referred to as "notebooks" above in the review) don't understand the difference between a well-written personal narrative and letting the world know that you went to the bathroom, just talked to Suzie, or stepped in dog crap. I agree that reading those kind of blogs are about as interesting as listening to a standard cell phone conversation. You don't learn anything.

      But some of the personal narrative sites can be amusing, moving, and occasionally wise. I've really enjoyed reading this one [ftrain.com] and this one [harpold.com] over the last year or two. You're missing out on some great writing, story telling, and even an odd discussion about the semantic web if you don't read them.

      (And don't forget my own merely semi-pitiful narratives [canncentral.org]. I promise there is only one mention of attending to bodily functions on the whole site, and that's only in the context of a "wackiness ensues" story. I'd say that was a shameless plug, but I'm now somewhat ashamed. Ah, well.)

      As for "link style" blogging -- I haven't figured out what makes the difference between the good and the bad. It's not necessarily focus -- Metafilter and even Slashdot are both all over the map. It's not even necessarily commentary... weak commentary or no commentary and a collection of links can still be interesting. Near as I can tell, it's interesting if the person/people collecting them have interesting trains of thought. Whatever that means.

    • OK Coward.

      Visit my stupid blog. http://www.sirinek.com

      Why, I even talk about a trip to the store, my new toy, my trip to Florida, its all pretty "mental". And if you click on my friend Brian's blog link you get the "masturbation" part too. ;)

      siri
  • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:25AM (#4409578) Journal
    that I ever learned, I learned at Movable Type's [movabletype.org] website. They've got a great customizable sytem, and EASY install setup. (I've got my non-techie teacher pers to set it up.) And it is easy to use with all sorts of options...
    If Timothy can advertise books on the front page, I can advertise a blog in the posts. ;-)
    • I second that. The XMLRPC support in all the latest blog software has become a real boon.

      There are tons of compatible editors and the like popping up, and the nice thing is that they're all compatible with any blog software using the API, not just Moveable Type.

      I'd love to see the *Nukes and other web programs pick up XMLRPC, It will make the web more accessible to people who don't understand it if they can edit their website through a simple Word-like editor, and since MT and others come with W3C validated goodness, we don't have novices screwing up the web.
  • blogs need a book? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by taijirad ( 584518 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:26AM (#4409587)
    I mean really. Anyone can put up html with a pile of links and slap away at the keyboard for a few minutes. Is this really a topic that deserves it's own book?

    It is exactly this kind of overanalyzing that is making the web suck.

    • It's this kind of analyzing that makes humans human. That makes the world interesting. That turns inventions into everyday items that enrich the human race.

      Blogs are the result of the masses realising what the Internet really is and what it can do for them. What use is a technology when it is only used by its creators? When the population at large grabs hold of something, and twist and turns and misuses it, that's when things become interesting.

      Imagine how dull writing was until people with things to say got hold of it?

    • Anyone can put up html with a pile of links and slap away at the keyboard for a few minutes.
      That's precisely why we do need books about it. It's an attempt to improve the quality of blogs. But if you don't like blogs, you still have the freedom of going to other web sites instead.
    • So, how did you learn HTML? By osmosis?

      How did you learn to move files to someone else's server? By osmosis?

      How did you learn to use an editor? By osmosis?

      How did you learn to register a domain? By osmosis?

      Sounds like your one of those folks who think the web belongs only to people who write Perl and use Emacs.

      Writing a weblog is just that: an exercise in writing, not a playground for techies.

  • by Opiuman ( 172825 ) <redbeard.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:28AM (#4409596) Homepage
    Oh wait... *doh*
  • Um, I was under the impression that "blogs" (what a stupid name that is) were trendy and cool four years ago, but are just derivative sources of meaningless drivel these days.

    Do people actually still read and write these things?
    • by KelsoLundeen ( 454249 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:40AM (#4409665)
      I had the same question myself. But after searching a few blogs this morning, I realized that the bloggers are bonkers.

      I mean, I came across some guy's site (I think his name was Rannie -- it was a Photography/Read the stories of my life Blog) -- and found him talking about "blogging meetings" and playing some sort of "survivor" blog game, and then bemoaning all the popular new Blogs these days because they're forgetting about the Blogger Old-Schoolers (and then he named a bunch of Bloggers who, I guess, are incredibly famous in the world of blogs.)

      Anyway, I was surprised to stumble on an apparently thriving little (big?) sub-culture.

      Me, I suspect the deal with Blogs is that when they're good -- they're really good -- but when they're bad, they're wretched exercises in navel-gazing narcissism. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, however.)

      • What's really sad is that I just recently found out what a blog was, and about this huge community. Sad, because I've been running a blog for over a year, and didn't even know it :)

        I mainly started the site so friends & family could keep up with what's going on in my life, without actually having to converse with them. Now that I think about it, that's pretty sad, too.
    • Yeah, "white hot" was a bit much, but I think Blogs still have their place. I think the Filter vs. "blog"/notebook style is important. I keep up with 6 or 7 filters, and only 1 or 2 notebooks.

      Filters are great, they do the surfing for you, finding some diamonds in all that internet coal.

      My site [kisrael.com] is mostly a filter, but with an emphasis on found quotes as well. I do it a little for the attention, but mostly as a record of my own life and findings.
    • Do people actually still read and write these things?

      You know the interesting thing about this question is that it asserts the idea that blogging is useless, as a pseudo-blogger i would have to disagree with this idea. For me i write a diary and then post it online, which apparently fits the definition of a "notebook blog" (which i was previously unaware of), sure 99% of the time it's an egotistic pile of shit, but 10 years from now i'm going to find it very interesting to go back and read my entries from today. Not too long ago i started transcribing my grandfather's old diary and it's mighty interesting to see his perception of things that are now in the fading past (Vietnam, Nixon, Oil Crisis, and more personally: my mom moving out, me being born, etc etc) i feel i can reasonably assume that what i'm writing now will be no different...

      i see the question as similar to: "do people still actually write diaries?" And i think the answer should be obvious... But then again i've never been "down" with "blog culture" so my perception of the whole shebang is probably grossly inaccurate, sure i've surfed through some blogs and yes they were alright to read, although i don't know that i would read them twice. But i've always been under the assumption that people write for themselves and post it for the hell of it as opposed to posting and writing to gain a following of some kind...

      just my two cents...

      -tid242

  • New Book (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:31AM (#4409615)
    Hey everybody - I'm working on a new book. It's called "The Slashdot Handbook: Practical Advice on posting comments and submitting stories to Slashdot". Please buy it.
    Thank you.

  • by ohboy-sleep ( 601567 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:31AM (#4409617) Homepage
    5 GET Webspace
    10 PRINT Opinion
    20 IF OPINION = NotHorriblyCrappy THEN GOTO 10
    30 END
  • Isn't there just something wrong about a dead tree account of how to set up a blog?

    Blogs have to be one of the most natural uses of the web for not-too-techie folk. Easy-to-use tools to get your opinion out to the world pretty close to real-time. But you read a book to figure out how or why to do it?

  • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:32AM (#4409623) Homepage
    "Blood covers all the bases..."

    That was a disturbing image.

  • by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:44AM (#4409691) Homepage
    Blogging is the digital diarrhea of the internet. From those annoying idiots who update other idiots on their daily activities to those anti-social rejects who sit home and type out crap thinking someone will read all that shit.

    NEWSFLASH: Nobody cares, you FuQn moron!$@

    Great! Now there is a book on blogging. So grandma can unload her rusty memories from 1940's onto the internet, clogging the perfectly fine storage space on google.com CEASE AND DECIST GRANDMA! Unless its going to bring something new to the humanity, you're better off doing something productive until the grim reaper comes to take you away into the land of extreme blog hatred.

    Oh, lets not forget those 14y/o angsty teens who listen to Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne. If these are the people who will be the next wave on the internet, then I'm switching to analog computing and will chew off my CAT5 cables just to liberate myself from the trainwreck of the civilization that is the World Wide Wreck.

    Did you know Hitler used to Blog? Yep. It's called Mein Kampf. Scary stuff folks.

    So next time you see a blogger, kindly break his/her fingers so they can become an end-user (Read Only), and not a pseudo-webmasters/mistresses spelling out the end of the civilization as we know it.

    BLOGGING IS WRONG. AND YOU KNOW IT.

    This rant was brought to you by Committee on Coffee Deficiency.
      • What about your journal entries then?

        Good observation. Read closely and notice that it's the slightly modified version of the *BSD trolls. I used it as a prank couple of people. It didn't work.

        Good point. Too bad you didn't read it.
        • I kinda read it, but I didn't fully. I tried to be funny by linking your journals, when in fact you can't really be got at for it, since there are only 2 entries and one is a PHP release copy... :)
    • Who's making you read blogs that you don't want to? Nobody? Then why are you bitching? Just don't read blogs you don't like, and if you don't like any blogs don't read any blogs. Bitching about something other people seem to enjoy and derive fulfillment from just makes you...ummm...what was your charming phrase...oh yeah. An anti-social reject.

    • I see your point, but I think it's safe to assume that Blogging -- at least when it's at its most narcissitic -- is like the little pressure valve in those stove-top espresso makers. If the valve wasn't there, you'd pour in the water, put in espresso, put it on the stove, and after two minutes, you'd be digging IKEA shrapnel out from your stomach.

      Blogging, I think, works much in the same way. Imagine if these people only had Linkin Park or Avril Lavigne to listen to -- and no way to release the pressure? (Or, worse, imagine if they only had that Linkin Park remix album to listen to? You think 'In the End' is bad in its original incarnation, wait'll you hear what happens to it when Mix-Master Flash and Grand Diddy Funk 'N Funktastic start scratching on it.)

      Of course, I experienced a similar situation back in the days of my youth. But thank god the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever came to my rescure. There I was in 1977 -- eight, maybe nine years old -- and my world pretty much consisted of all the fading patriotic hoopla from the Bicentennial, a couple of Scientific American magazines which I read over and over again because I was fascinated with the Voyager Mars missions, and a little beat-up AM radio that every night tuned to the local station in my small town so I could hear real live DJs play stuff like Bobby Hebb's 'Sunny' and Glen Campbell's 'Rhinestone Cowboy.'

      Anyway, I caught wind of this new movie -- Saturday Night Fever. No one in my fourth grade class had seen it, but everybody was talking about it. Of course, thanks to Jack 'Maddog' Valenti, it was Rated R, so that meant I had to be either 17 or in the company of my old man to go see it.

      (I sent Valenti a letter not long after that, explaining that it should be up to kids and parents to make decisions about movies -- not some dumb ratings board -- but I never got a response. For that I still hold a grudge. But I digress...)

      Anyway, the Old Man had heard good things about Saturday Night Fever so he decided to take me. We caught a matinee -- on account the old man was a fucking cheapskate -- but that was okay. Wer hustled down to the movie theater and were able to get into see the 5pm show. ("All shows before 6pm are $1.75")

      That movie changed my life. I'm not kidding. The music, Tony Manaro ("Attica! Attica!"), the whole downtown atmosphere -- it rocked. The only thing that profoundly disturbed me was the fucking Annette in the car. I was seven, of course, so this was all new -- the "making it" -- but I guess these days it's not so new. But then -- back in 1977 -- making it with Annette in the backseat of the car was rocked my little world. And rubbers? Don't get me started. It took a little bit of detective work to figure out what Tony was talking about when he wondered why she didn't have no rubbers.

      But this is story about blogging and pressure valves, so flash forward about two weeks. I finally scrounged up enough allowance to by the double album of the soundtrack. I can see the brownish 'Casablanca' label on the record spinning around on my little turntable. That record -- especially the first record -- was my little pressure valve.

      The old man would leave on a Saturday or Sunday, and I'd creep downstairs, put the record on the big stereo, and turn the volume up high. "Night Fever", "Jive Talking," and "Staying Alive" blasting loud and clear while I danced around my living room in my sweat socks doing knee-splits and the statue-of-liberty-like-pointing-at-the-sky moves that Tony Manero did in the film. I slicked my hair back, put on my best Brooklyn accent, and made an invisible friend named 'Annette' with whom I'd try to 'make it' on the sofa.

      That was my pressure valve.

      Nowadays it's blogging.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    • For someone who hates blogging so much, I don't understand why you are arguing against something that isn't totally dissimilar to your posts here.
      A few issues to address:
      A) Mein Kampf was anything but scary. Long, poorly written and egotisticle, but definitively *not* scary. It does, however, illuminate conspiracy theories and give us a taste of the man who could sway thousands, something that our culture is almost *paranoid* about exposing us to.
      B)Blogging is under exactly the same umbrella as chatting, IM's, Posts, Online journals, reviews and our roots in the BBS.
      C) Google runs on a cache. If you don't *click* the *link*, it's priority is reduced, and it is eventually dropped from the result board all together. If it's up there, it's up there for a reason.
  • by ader ( 1402 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:47AM (#4409711) Homepage
    • Where to find all those quizzes like "What kind of gibbering baboon are you?"
    • How to sound either deeply caring or wildly homicidal about Iraq (or alternatively, wildly caring and deeply homicidal)?
    • The importance of regular shout-outs to Kacey, Joel, Tawnee, Brad, Doug and all your other half-wit buds in the high school Sad Bloggers Club?
    • Lots of pretentious wank about "the blog community", "the blogging ethos" and "the blogosphere"?
    • Allegedly cool stuff that no one sane gives a rats ass about, like metafilter, trackbacks and blog trees?
    • The importance of highlighting every edit you make to your template?
    • A grossly inflated sense of its own worth, as an inspiration to readers?

    If so, I may have to buy it so I can be down with the kids on the street. Yo.

    Ade_
    /
  • by beanerspace ( 443710 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:49AM (#4409722) Homepage
    Sometimes I walk into ReadMeDoc.Com [readmedoc.com] and ask - did a tree really have to die for that subject? Not to disparage the writer, but I have to categorize this one under the "DUH" section along with "MacIntosh for Dummies."

    Blogging can be learned two ways. Visiting blogs. Its easy, there are tech blogs [scripting.com], there are pundit blogs [instapundit.com], there are blogs for dogs [doggieblog.com] and blogs4God [blogs4god.cm]. There are even nichy topical blogs, such as how to fix your church's web page [healyourch...ebsite.com].

    Then there are a variety of free or next-to-nothing tools to get the job done. For the absolute newbie, there is Blogger.com [blogger.com]. Once you've figured it out a bit, you can graduate to MovableType [movabletype.org]. And if you're really afraid of HTML, you can spend $49 and do it brain dead with Radio Userland [userland.com]. There are also a gazillion of choices [urldir.com] inbetween.

    The point is, blogging is simple. Its not more difficult than back in 1995 when we all posted our first kitty-kat pictures using notepad or VI. Writing good content for blogs is the hard part.
    • Hey, if you can plug all those blogs, then I want to plug my own:

      http://www.sethb.com/weblog/ [sethb.com]

      That said, I haven't completely drank the weblog Kool-Aid, I don't think it's going to revolutionize human communication like Dave Winer and some of the other weblog advocates do, but I do think they're kind of fun, if they're well written.

      Now, I'm not saying mine is well written, but some of them are easier to read than others. Many weblogs are written just to appeal to their close circle of friends or colleagues, and are meaningless drivel to outsiders. Some are collections of random links that a person finds surfing the web that day, and some are simply interesting tidbits that a person chooses to share with the rest of the world.

      Weblogs do an excellent job of providing information about obscure topics, the referer logs for my own weblog have numerous hits on technical bits that I've posted in the past, errors I've encountered in products, and reviews I've written about stuff that I've purchased. No, it's not going to revolutionize human communication, but if you were about to buy an electric rechargeable lawn mower, wouldn't you want to read a review about it? [sethb.com] That's the kind of nuggets of info that weblogs do a good job of providing.

      There's a lot of ego involved in many of them too, even in my own, I'll admit it. But there's also a chance to share what's going on in your life, and, as Spider Robinson wrote, shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased.
    • Your correct that writing content is the entire point of a weblog, which is why creating one should be as simple as possible. Someone interested in writing -- not computing -- should have a tool that is as simple as possible. Something that lets good writers with something to say get on the web without jumping a computer skills barrier.

      Slashdotters often make the mistake of assuming more knowledge and experience on the part of mainstream computer users than is probably justified.(Hence, the frequent arrogant insults about "lusers".) Blogger requires you to understand that you must find space on a server to host your files. That requires you to understand the notion of clients and servers. MoveableType requires an awareness of what "code" is and an ability to successfully install and edit code. Radio comes close to being simple and intuitive, but drags you into the weeds as soon as you want to tweak it. ("What's XML?")

      Blogging is simple from the perspective of /. readers, for whom learning is often more important than doing but /. readers don't represent mainstream computer users.
    • Correction ... blogs4God.com [blogs4god.com].

      That said, here are a few more "yahoo" like resources you can use to navigate your way around the "blogosphere:"
      • eatonweb portal :: the original weblog directory

  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:53AM (#4409753) Homepage Journal
    Papa Blog: We've got to blog the magic blog, or else Blogamel will blog the blog away!
    Brainy Blog: That's obvious, Papa Blog. If you blog the blog equations, you'll blog to the obvious blogclusion that --
    Blogette: Lookout! It's Blogamel! With his evil Blog!
    All the Blogs: Oh no! Blog for your lives! We're blogged! Blog me! Run for the blog! Save the blogs!(etc)

    I'm blogging for the cure. Are you?

  • by JimPooley ( 150814 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @09:55AM (#4409764) Homepage
    Some people say that weblogs are wonderful things as they give everyone a voice - well, everyone on the internet, that is, but the kind of people who say this don't believe people not on the internet count.
    The simple truth of the matter is that 99.999% of these people have nothing of any interest or value to say.
    Or look at it like this.

    Once upon a time, people had diaries. Books of blank paper in which they would scribble down their tepid thoughts, worthless deeds, bad goth poetry (is there any other kind?) and stories about their cats. Then at the end of the day they'd close up the diary and shove it under the mattress, as it was all secret and they didn't want anyone to read it.

    But now we have blogging and livejournals, and rather than writing all this stuff in a book and hiding it under the mattress, they publish this on the internet for all to see.
    How many terabytes of diskspace is taken up with bad goth poetry? How many servers does it take to hold everyone's wibblings about their bloody cats?
    How many gigawatts of electricity has to be generated to power the servers and the routers and all the infrastructure needed for these things to work?
    They're all just a terrible waste of resources!
    Remember this. Weblogs pollute the planet, physically and psychically. Just Say No!
    • I would rather that the aforementioned angsty teens sit at home and type at their blogs than take to the streets and vent by spraying grafitti, mauling pedestrians or shooting their co-students... It's just text people, and most blogsites are pay-to-play; it's not like they're clogging your 'net. You don't like it, don't go to them. I for one visit a few select blogs of friends' and find them most amusing (well, once a month or so is my threshold, but still!).
    • Remember this. Weblogs pollute the planet, physically and psychically. Just Say No!

      I couldn't agree with you more. How many more Chinese peasants have to die before the madness ends?

    • Sturgeon's Law: 99% of science fiction is crap...but then 99% of everything is crap. There's as much crap right here on Slashdot as on some huge number of blogs, and yet you read it and even respond to it. Nobody's holding a gun to your head forcing you to read any blog. Why deny other people their fun, no matter how lame or self-indulgent it might seem to you?

  • The idea of a "filter" blog is to point to interesting content, right? So someone takes time to "find interesting content" and point to it. I would rather that person spent his or her time CREATING interesting content.

    As it is, we already have plenty of sites that point to other cool sites. (memepool, etc.) I think it is wrong to encourage people to create more - the truly motivated already are doing so. We need to teach people how to find something that is NOT already covered a hundred times (Why isn't there a page that tells us what charles nelson riley is doing right now?) and to make an interesting page that people will actually want to point TO.

    Live journals are a cut above that, because at least they aren't just pointing to other people's works. But, again, you don't need a book telling you how to make a live journal - go to one of the live journal sites and start. The people who would possibly have an interesting live journal are already doing it.

    I guess what I'm saying is that anyone who would buy this book is probably not someone who will be adding any interesting content to the web.
  • Since when is adding entries to an HTML document so difficult, and since when is managing date-based sorting a problem?

    I edit my weblog with nano. Granted, I also edit it live, which bothers people as a concept, but I ssh into my data area for my web site, "nano -w weblog.html", and type away. When a month's worth of entries are generated (on the calendar change) I roll the old weblog over to weblog-archive-year-month.html, and start a new weblog with a template for the headers, page formatting, etc, using cp. I then link the new weblog.html to the archive, link the archive to the new weblog.html, and add an entry to the archive list page. It takes ten minutes per month if I'm drunk off my ass and can't type.

    I know that I'm not necessarily doing it the standard way, but HOW can one write a full sized book on weblogging?

    Better yet, how can someone justify paying more than $0.50 for said book?
  • bn.com has it listed for $12.60. Amazon has it for $11.20 [amazon.com]

    Save some money.
  • I just want to say how much I hate the word "blog." What's wrong with "weblog?"
    • I just want to say how much I hate the word "blog." What's wrong with "weblog?"

      Are you kidding? Look at the kid next to you on the subway text-messaging with his cell phone and you see where we're headed as a society.

      They h8 weblog it's 2 long. d00d.

      -DDT

  • As I arrived to work, I cruised on by ./ [slashdot.org] and low and behold, there was a report of a new book on how to Make My Own Weblog. Much to my suprise, I had been going about it all wrong. you see, I am apparently supposed to copy and paste my writings into the text upload field as opposed to cutting and pasting. You can just imagine the virtual egg on my face. My whole Blog World was turned upside down.

    Next they are going to say something crazy like I should submit my site to search engines [google.com] to increase traffic to my rantings.

    I find that the book could be a very difficult read for some and I have decided to create a Blog Book Discussion Blog [slashdot.org] to account for what looks to be a tumutuous journey through this wonderful guide. I also have plans to create m own new guide, The Blog Book Discussion Blog for Dummies [slashdot.org], to be available in time for the holidays. Please visit my Blog Book Discussion Blog [slashdot.org] and buy my The Blog Book Discussion Blog for Dummies [slashdot.org].

    Peace, until next time...

  • Karaoke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leoboiko ( 462141 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `okioboel'> on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @10:25AM (#4409954) Homepage
    I think blogs are like karaoke. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of drunken people singing, but it is very fun to sing. Same way, almost all blogs are useless crap, but they are fun for the one who writes.
  • I'm in a class where the teacher is making us post blogs. Not for personal hopes and bitching, but for thoughts on class, questions, and biweekly assignments or mini-reports if you will. Using the nifty free (beer?) movable type [movabletype.org] software, other classmates and the prof. can leave comments. We've had one assignment and so far, so good.
    Look here if curious. [bennington.edu]
  • I have yet to see a blog that offers a few security features I'd like to see:

    1. A blog that has a challenge/response login page. This would be a blog that for my family that I would post updates and pictures of my kids. I don't want the whole world reading about my kids. The pages would be secured by a set of challenge/responses that I could enter such as: "My mom's maiden name", "My Dad's middle name". My immediate and extended family can answer those questions and get in without the need to remember any kind of userid/password.

    2. Blog pages that I can create limited-access URLs to. For example, let's say I have a blog I use to keep design ideas. Only I have access to it. But I create a couple entries that I'd like to share with a couple friends for feedback. I'd like to be able to create a URL with some kind of key that I can email them. They can click on the URL and get to that page and no other. Then they can submit feedback.

    Is this available?

    -tim
    • LiveJournal [livejournal.com] gives you that opportunity although it's not completely the same as you described above. Any post in LiveJournal blog can have (a) private, (b) friends-only and (c)public access.

      Private is intended only for yourself, friends-only is for those account holders, whom you claimed as friends and public is public. No challenge-response logins, though, each of your friends and family members would have to create their own account and then be added by you into the friends list.

  • The only usefull weblog I ever found is Alan Cox' diary [linux.org.uk]. Does anybody know more like this?
  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @11:18AM (#4410340) Homepage Journal
    A few blogs try to go the informative rant. My blog tries that and stays the course on one, and only one topic.

    I take other blogs with a grain of salt. Some I read for other professional/user perspective (such as Doc Searls [weblogs.com] or the venerable Dan Gillmor. [siliconvalley.com] I enjoy the casual thoughts from Meg, a cofounder of the Blogger blogsite [megnut.com], and, just for kicks and grins, read sites with attitude like Up Yours, which chronicles the happiness of a lovely mom in a twisted little world. [sekimori.com]

    The real problem with blogs isn't blogs itself. That's like blaming the gun for the shooting of a person. The problem is that most people can't string a simple sentence together, which makes reading some sites a pain.

    On the up side, people who can't write may find blogging to be theraputic--if they can stand the mail flames.

    I personally like how I plug my own blog with my sig, like so:
  • by manduwok ( 610836 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @11:21AM (#4410370)
    ...by some of these posts. I just recently set up my own web log, and am not posting the link for a reason. I did it for me. I love to write in my free time. It is an easy, convenient way for me to express what I'm feeling at any given point in the day. Being a junior in college with an IT profession, what better way for me to maintain what I deem as a healthy hobby? No, I don't go around reading other people's "blogs" and losing myself in someone else's life (or what they protray of it). I write for everyone and no one. I could give two shits if anyone ever stumbles across my little site. It is simply my online "journal", and I see nothing wrong with that.
    • by dryueh ( 531302 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @12:28PM (#4410941)
      ..and on top of the accessibility of having a weblog (as opposed to a saved .txt file), there IS the passive thought that someone might be reading some of the stuff you write.....but the nature of the weblog prevents you from readily knowing who, if anyone, is doing so.

      It's just an idea that floats around in your head as you write...that someone might have an interest in what you're writing. It's romantic, and it's fun. Who cares if it actually happens or not; the potentiality is real.

  • to find out if your blog is hot or not [hotornot.com]. Let public opinion decide for you =]
  • by budalite ( 454527 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @11:32AM (#4410439)
    *sniff* this is just so beautiful..*sniff* I never knew there such as place as this wonderful place called /. *sniff* All my life I have looked for a place where I could feel at home. I feel so normal here at /. *sniff, snort* I hate blogs, you see. I hate blogs, style, senior citizen car drivers, writers, fashion designers, male dancers, and Poodles. God, I hate poodles. But not as much as I hate blogs. Only writers do blogs. I suspect all writers, fashion designers, and male dancers either have or plan to have stylish Poodles. God, I hate poodles. and blogs. Thank you, very much!
  • by Faeton ( 522316 )
    My blog isn't for you. It's password protected (not 128-bit) to keep out the riffraff that don't know who I am. Not a strong system, but it's meant more to be a fence than a massive firewall.

    I don't post for the masses or rant about world issues. Everybody knows that opinions on the internet are like assholes. Everybody's got them, and most of them stink.

    Who I do post for are my friends and relatives, who, if they wanted to, could check up on my life, see my work sched (I work shift), read a bit of my relational life and all the little stuff you don't want to repeat to every single friend, again and again. It's my bulletin board, and it's all mine. If you know me, check it out. If you don't, I don't have anything interesting to say to you, except for some pictures of my hot friends.

  • by igrek ( 127205 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2002 @01:11PM (#4411286)
    Ok, I don't know much about blogging, but I maintain two wiki sites - one at work and one for personal use. Both work very well, wiki is amazingly flexible and useful.

    As far as I understand, my personal wiki site is similar to those "notepad"-style blogs... Something like a collection of essays, thoughts, reviews, some quotes stolen from diferent places, etc. The wiki gives an advantage, though - if I wish, I can easily structure the content of wiki by multiple criteria. The blog organization seems to be mostly chronology-oriented (is it correct?)

    Anyway, does anyone have experience in both blogging and wikiing (ha! invented a word!)? What are their pro/contra for personal-notebook usage?
  • Oh god. (Score:2, Funny)

    by zizzo ( 86200 )
    I had to stop reading as soon as I came to the word "bloggeratti."
  • As a long-time webblogger myself, I'd have to say that most of these weblogging books are total bullshit. There should be only one of these books.. 'Weblogging for Dummies' and that's it.

    They're mostly dull simplistic guides to posting your thoughts and feelings on the Web. Big deal. They're as useful as the classics, 'How to write a diary' or 'How to read a book'.

    The only book worth its salt, IMHO, is We:Blog [blogroots.com], since it covers the commercial and emerging angle of weblogs in being used with commercial situations. But books for personal bloggers? A waste of time. Really.
  • by heroine ( 1220 )
    That's what you get for naming yourself after your husband.

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