inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #26 of 36: Scott Rosenberg (scottros) Fri 11 Sep 09 09:17
Jeff, that model for creating a book has some appeal -- as you say,
it's fast and easy and cheap. It can be fun. But, you know, the
resulting books are, in most cases, likely to be pretty insubstantial.

As for RSS, Gail, it's had a complex history. It was first widely
embraced as a tool for heavy-duty consumers of blog content to organize
and keep up with the flow of posts. As such it's proven of value but
mostly only to hardcore/pro users. "Following" in Twitter is a
variation on the subscribe-in-RSS theme, one that is simpler and
(because of the 140-character limitation) seems to have wider appeal.
People seem more willing to accept that they're not going to, and don't
have to, "keep up with" Twitter; RSS readers left too many people
feeling too guilty about the pileup of unread messages. (Dave Winer has
made this argument well over the years; he always advocated for RSS
consumption to be less like email and more like what we now think of as
the Twitter model -- he called it a "river.")

The other big contribution of RSS was that it applied just a very
small amount of data structure to Web content, making it possible for
developers to begin to do interesting things with it. This allowed for
all sorts of interesting experiments in parsing and filtering blog
content; it also, of course, opened the door to various kinds of abuse,
like the "splogs" that auto-republish RSS feeds in hope of gaming
Google and earning pennies on search ads. 

So I don't really think of the success of blogging as being "really
about RSS." The success of blogging is about the success of a form of
online interaction that subtly but powerfully favored the voice of the
individual over the voice of the crowd. I keep suggesting that blogging
isn't going to mutate that much further because I think it has some
unique qualities that have stood the test of time (a decade of Web

Google Wave is fascinating, RSSCloud is an exciting development; these
fast-moving novelties will keep showing us new possibilities for group
and individual interaction online. Most of them will fade into the
woodwork as failed experiments. Occasionally one of them will stand out
as a long-term success -- as happened to email, Web pages themselves,
and later blogging. Whether Twitter -- or distributed Twitter-like
networks -- will end up joining this list is, I think, an open
question. Right now I wouldn't bet against it! 
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #27 of 36: Christian Crumlish (xian) Mon 14 Sep 09 11:20
p.s.: could be wrong about Crooks and Liars, or may be mixing it up
with another lefty blog that eventually went solo, but I could swear it
started on
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #28 of 36: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 14 Sep 09 13:22
Scott, I was just looking at the web page for "Say Everything," and I
noticed that besides having a VERY entertaining little video about the
origin of blogging, you have put the first chapter of the book online
for free.

How is this free-sample approach working for you?  Is it just
something one must do, or so you have an indication that it helps the
book or the grander goal of blog history literacy, perhaps?
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #29 of 36: What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Mon 14 Sep 09 13:41
I don't remember Crooks and Liars from those days, but it may have been.

One of the things that made the Salon Blogs special, was that they made up
an ecosystem of their own, because of the way Userland's Radio worked. So,
when I blogged there, although I read and followed a lot of blogs other
places, anyone in the Salon ecosystem -- I forget Radio's technical term for
this -- seemed like it was in my neighborhood, somehow. They turned up on
lists when I checked my referer stats, and others in my neighborhood would
notice and link to them, and so on , and so on.

That, together with the sense some of us had that we were somehow pulling
for Salon through a tough period made that very different.

You've done really well in the book, Scott, bringing together a range of
different approaches to or uses of the medium. What Dave Winer was and is
doing varies dramatically from robotwisdom or Justin Hall's, and
you've done a fine job of both distinguishing the different activities and
finding a through line for them.

Which makes me wonder: was there anything you wanted to include, thought
about including, or tried to include, that just didn't fit or otherwise
wouldn't work?
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #30 of 36: Scott Rosenberg (scottros) Mon 14 Sep 09 14:17
Christian -- I think there was some sort of connection in the distant
past between Table Talk and the start of MediaWhoresOnline -- could
that be what you're thinking of? 

Gail -- there's actually two whole chapters of the book on the site --
Justin Hall saga and also the "Journalists vs. Bloggers" epic. It's
hard for me to isolate how that has played out separate from the rest
of the marketing. (The video was by far the most fun to make!) We did
the intro and half a chapter or so from DREAMING IN CODE, so we
definitely went further this time. As far as I can tell the book is
selling respectably enough but I can't say posting these chapters has
gone "viral" or otherwise accomplished anything unusual or
extraordinary. Still, I think posting decent-sized chunks of the book
can hardly hurt and has to help at least a little.

I'm glad you had that experience with Salon Blogs, Bruce -- I did too,
and I worked from that background in the early days of trying to
imagine what Open Salon would become, too. 

As for what I had to leave out -- so much! For instance, I didn't end
up including much at length about either Ben and Mena Trott and the
rise of Movable Type and SixApart, or Matt Mullenweg and the rise of
Wordpress. Having already told one story of the rise of a blogging
platform and the people who created it (Blogger), it just didn't seem
to make sense -- given that this was intended to be a book about
blogging as a form of human expression, not blogging as a genre of
software. Movable Type and Wordpress are an important part of the saga 
(and of course I do deal with them a bit), but I needed to restrain
myself. Fortunately these tales are well-told elsewhere, too.
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #31 of 36: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 15 Sep 09 15:10
I've pointed out that video on a couple
of times, and people always like it, by the way.  Lots of fun!

The question of bloggers versus journalists is fascinating to me.  Of
course now many journalists blog at work, or have been instructed to
tweet instead this year.  It's all intermingled now.  

Yet I have been at events where somebody with press credentials was
behaving very badly (walking behind food and drink booths with lines to
help himself to the consternation of food servers, and proudly drawing
attention to that). I quickly discovered it was an independent
blogger.  That is another odd facet of the changes in news delivery. 

While some always break rules or norms, there have been a lot of
traditions in journalism that make up the day to day ethics of that
world.  Both reporters and the public have some expectation of how
journalists will behave.  I wonder if my observation was an unusual
one.  Is there any sign that bloggers have any new or continuing
consensus on what kinds of behavior are responsible when you are not an
employee, but a citizen? 
Does it matter?
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #32 of 36: David Wilson (dlwilson) Tue 15 Sep 09 19:30
So Scott, what kind of reception have you been getting about the book?
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #33 of 36: What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Wed 16 Sep 09 07:14
And . . . put your crystal ball on the table. What do we have to look
forward to in this space? Where's the excitement going to be in 2011 or
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #34 of 36: Scott Rosenberg (scottros) Wed 16 Sep 09 10:35
I had a lot of fun making the video, so I'm glad that some of that
comes through. Writing is my native mode of expression, but it's nice
to splash around in others!

I haven't personally experienced the "rude blogger syndrome" you
describe, Gail, but I'm sure it happens. There's a long tradition in
journalism, of course, of the old-line press-pass-bearing reporters
getting the reserved seats in the press section and so forth. So the
privilege tended to go to the pros. It wouldn't surprise me if some
small number of bloggers, heads swelled a bit by gaining new access to
such privilege, abused it. 

The book's reception has been largely what I expected: Lots of
enthusiasm from people who already knew parts of the story but were
glad to have me fill in the blanks for them (and, I'm proud to say,
their reaction is generally "you got that right"). Some puzzlement or
indifference from two different directions -- on the one hand,
tech-world insiders who think blogging is old hat and don't have much
interest in their industry's past, no matter how recent; on the other,
folks far outside the Silicon Valley hothouse and social-media bubble,
who can't imagine there's much history to speak of about a phenomenon
as new as blogging is. 

If I've been surprised by anything, it's been by how much residual
resentment and anger still seethes among professional media people when
they discuss the subject. As I said above, I felt the book was a
measured and balanced, if in the end positive, picture of the blogging
story; and it was sort of amazing to see how quickly I was pegged by
interviewers as an ardent pro-blogging partisan.

As for the future: I keep arguing that blogging itself is now a
somewhat stable and mature form. The Web itself and the applications we
build on top of it are continuing to evolve at a clip, of course; look
at Twitter's meteoric rise. But blogs themselves -- networked personal
repositories of writing organized chronologically -- have reached a
plateau of usefulness and software reliability. I actually think
blogging's evolution from this point forward will be slow, and the
excitement will be where it should be: not about the form but about new
examples of people using it in ways we can't imagine today. 
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #35 of 36: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 16 Sep 09 12:27
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, and for hanging out with us
here over the last two weeks, Scott.  I can't wait to see what your
next book will be about.

We're winding down here as the next guest joins us, though this Topic
is still open for comments.  For all WELL members who want to talk
about blogging as a phenomenon, or to get some feedback on your own
blogs, remember the Blog Conference <blog.> ; and for more general Web
trends, apps and development talk, there's also <web.>  

I think that beyond blogging and the Web, there is a general
awkwardness with recent history, Scott. All the more reason to write
while the memories are fresh, for later scholars to mine.  I think
that's a worthy endeavor.
inkwell.vue.364 : Scott Rosenberg, Say Everything
permalink #36 of 36: Ari Davidow (ari) Sat 19 Sep 09 15:22
Scott, I was one of the first posters, so let me close with one of the 
first post-discussion posts if you're still around. 

I got a strong sense from your book that this was very much a tale of 
people discovering something new--that this thing we call a blog evolved 
from several people's work (and, given the accompanying video, this 
represents a tradition going at least as far back as the cave people).

So, as we look forward, what evolves next, if anything--or are we looking 
at the "mature" way that human bloggers, newly advanced to the next rung 
past Boswell or the cave bloggers--more or less fixed until a new 
technology comes around--maybe slightly easier tools to facilitate video 
blogging--and the next art form evolves?

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