The paucity of choice in Waterstones, etc, is a recurring theme, one with which I don't entirely agree. But the downside has never been more clearly demonstrated to me than yesterday, when I popped in en route to an Iranian new year celebration (;-) ) to see if I could buy a book about blogs or blogging. Not a one (and not one in WHSmith either).
The reason for my attempt was because I had just read a book on the topic, The Weblog Handbook, by Rebecca Blood. It is a readable and interesting book, and one I recommend, but it was published as long ago as 2002. The famous but misattributed quote about Harold Wilson's week being a long time in politics does not quite apply to blogging, but it was a revelation to read in this book that everyone with a blog knew each other (online), and that there were web directory sites for blogs that listed them all.
The principles of blogging so ably and clearly set out by Ms Blood still hold, but having read her book I was keen to fill in the gap to the present. I felt like an illegal alien in Waterstones. I am clearly a creature from another world now. (And have since hived off to planet Amazon where I will find what I need if it exists.)
Some words of wisdom from Ms Blood:
"Weblogs are not, as some people say, a new kind of journalism. Rather, they supplement traditional journalism by evaluating, augmenting and above all filtering the information churned out by journalists and the rest of the media machine every day. Mass media seeks to appeal to a wide audience; weblogs excel at creating targeted serendipity for their individual constituencies."
"….there are only three movitivations for keeping one [a weblog]: information sharing, reputation building, and personal expression."
"..each one, whatever its nature, provides for its readers an intimate portrait of its maintainer, a portrait drawn over time. Random observations, selected links, extended diatribes — accumulated, these elements resolve into a mosaic revealing a personality, a self."
"The Web has circumvented all the gatekeepers, and now everyone with a webpage has the means to reach an audience of like-minded individuals."
"Your goal is to attract a core audience of readers in tune with your way of seeing the world. Their number is irrelevant."
On webloggers: "I have found them to be, without exception, very nice individuals. Several of these have been webloggers with whom, politically, I could not disagree more strongly…..In each case we have met each other with great pleasure, our differences far, far outweighed by the things we have in common: a love for the weblog, the unwavering belief in the value of every individual's opinion, and an absolute commitment to the right of each of us to publish our thoughts."
"Those who grumble at seeing the same site linked on a dozen weblogs rail against the most fundamental attribute of the Web itself — its ability to allow people to share information easily. And those who decry cross-blog talk have not yet understood the value of bringing a dozen lively minds to bear on the same subject."
Thank you, Rebecca Blood.