Dispatches From Blogistan

An early history of blogging as told through interviews.

Perhaps best described as a collection of interviews, lists and history, Dispatches is a quick read clocking in at just over 230 pages.

Starting with newspapers in ancient China and Rome then on to Greek bloggers of a sort, moving through pamphlets, British diarists and early newspapers, the author traces how the recording of events led first to the modern newspaper and finally into the age of blogs. Through-out this story, there is a theme of early innovators gradually being moved aside as larger players dominate new inventions- a fact that shouldn’t be forgotten by today’s bloggers dreaming of overthrowing the old media.

The chapters that follow cover the history of blogs from Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee’s early web pages to the creation of tagging by Joshua Schachter (creator of del.icio.us), that is so common today, and other milestones that led to where blogging is today.

It’s not until chapter 9 or 11 that the practical material is introduced and by that time experienced bloggers will have probably picked up enough advice via the interviews with bloggers such as Bruce Sterling and Mr. Jalopy, as well as checking out the links listed in the sidebars, to feel that this book has been more than a history lesson. Sections of the book cover everything from writing-style and design, to promoting and coverage of some legal issues (abet mostly from an American-law perspective.)

Early in the introduction there is mention that this book would make a good textbook, I’d agree; there’s a lot of information in these 230-odd pages. Dispatches not suited to the complete novice, but if you know your way around the ‘net and you need a good primer on blogging, you’ll probably learn a lot from this book, or at the least, where to go to find it.

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