Book Review: Readings
David Kline and Dan Burstein
Reviewed by Kate X Messer, Fri., Nov. 11, 2005
Blog! How the Newest Media Revolution Is Changing Politics, Business, and Culture
by David Kline and Dan Burstein
CDS Books, 402 pp., $24.95When did blogging first earn mainstream cred? When it began breaking or making the news? After greater hindsight, it may seem naive to assert that blog legitimacy erupted with Howard Dean's campaign, but the story is ripe with cultural implication. The tale of blogging's role in the Vermont governor's meteoric rise is told in Joe Trippi's "The Secrets of Dean's Success (and the Democrats' Failure)," the first among dozens examined in Blog!, an impressive volume collected by journalists David Kline and Dan Burstein. Blogging has evolved enough to warrant critical academic treatises and entire courselines, but in the mainstream book world, the topic has been mostly limited to "how-to" and "drive your Web content!" guides, which will of course continue to pop up with each new twist and whimper of the technology's development. Blog!, however, is one of the better in a small field of serious analytical tomes on the topic, despite the commanding, hyperbolic exclamation in its title, mirroring the often breathless voice used by bloggers. After a brief history of blogging from Burstein, the book delves into one big meta-conversation on the phenomenon and splits into three parts: Politics & Policy, Business & Economics, and Media & Culture. Conversations and essays from influential leaders, including Web guru Jon Lebkowsky, Wonkette's Ana Marie Cox, actor Wil Wheaton, and controversial G.I. Colby Buzzell all testify to the state of blog, 2005. Indictments of mass-media consolidation nervously cohabit with tales of emerging blog empires, the role of modern journalists, and the Web's news-breaking potential. There's commentary from out in the field of blogging flashpoints, like the 2004 campaign trail where mainstream journalists rubbed elbow to elbow and sometimes toe-to-toe with independistas of the RSS. Concentrating on such matters of global significance, however, takes the focus off of one of blogging's most charming traits: its utter lack of consistent filtering. Or as Wonkette's Cox says, "It is that freedom to do whatever you want, it's that lack of editing, it's that freshness, that immediacy." The double-edge of the blogosphere: Along with the dross comes the pulp, along with the diamonds comes the rough.