Radio talk-show host and law professor Hugh Hewitt has been at this blogging game for quite some time now, and popular bloggers are a fixture on (and, occasionally, guest hosts of) his radio program. Hewitt understands this new medium better than most professional journalists and commentators, and that’s why I had high hopes for Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World—and why I found the book to be something of a disappointment.
Maybe it’s because I’m not really part of the target audience for Blog. I’ve been blogging for almost four years and reading them for even longer, so I think I have a pretty good handle on what this new medium is all about. But Hewitt makes it clear that Blog is aimed at readers who have at most a passing acquaintance with weblogs – the influence of which he compares to the printing press – so much of his book is used to explain what they are and how they work.
I’m all in favor of spreading the blogging gospel, and if you weren’t familiar with weblogs before reading the book, you should have a pretty good idea about this exciting new medium after finishing it. The basics are all here, including—in the most interesting part of the book—detailed accounts of the blog-driven fall of Trent Lott, John Kerry and Dan Rather.
But it’s almost impossible to write a book about the internet which isn’t dated as soon as it’s released, and although Blog only came out earlier this year, it does not include several key developments in the blogging world, most notably the startling rise and influence of the leftist DailyKos.com. And at 225 pages, the book is really padded, with several lengthy appendices dedicated to reprinting old columns, news stories and e-mails from his listeners.
I like Hewitt’s radio show, and I really wanted to like Blog, but it just didn’t work for me. If you really want to understand this exciting new form of communication, you’re much better off simply reading the blogs themselves, allowing yourself to get lost in the maze of interesting links from site to site, than trying to find all you need to know in a book.