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inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #0 of 124: Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 30 Apr 03 20:08
    
Inkwell is pleased to present Rebecca Blood, here to talk about her book
"The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your
Blog", which was one of Amazon.com's top picks in Digital Culture for last
year.

Rebecca Blood is an internationally known weblogger and writer. She has a
BA in English and has held more kinds of jobs than you have, including
waitress, nanny, actress, secretary, boat-builder's assistant, evil
telemarketer, film production assistant, personal driver, film extra,
caterer, web designer, author, speaker, administrative director for a
non-profit, and "special forces" for a small regional magazine.

Rebecca has maintained the popular weblog, Rebecca's Pocket, since April
1999, linking and writing about current events, media literacy, web
culture, sustainability, domestic life, and whatever else catches her eye.
In September 2000 she published the influential essay "Weblogs: A History
and Perspective" and in July 2002 she published her first book, "The Weblog
Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog". Both
have been used in university courses throughout the English-speaking
world.

She is frequently called on by the press to illuminate the currently
unstoppable weblog phenomenon, and has discussed online culture in
interviews with the New York Times, Newsweek, Fast Company, the BBC, and on
National Public Radio. She will be presenting a keynote at Blogtalk, the
first conference about weblogs, to be held May 23-24, 2003 in Vienna,
Austria. She lives in San Francisco.

Rebecca will be interviewed by Inkwell's own Jon Lebkowsky.  Jon is CEO of
Polycot Consulting Group, an Austin, Texas technology consultancy focused
on social software and web technology. He has worked in various positions
as project manager, analyst, technology director, and online community
developer.  He was a Systems Analyst and Project Manager with the Texas
Department of Human Services before leaving for the private sector.  While
working at TDHS, he became involved in early Internet development, and was
cofounder and CEO of one of one of the first virtual corporations,
FringeWare, Inc.  He was a consultant and contractor for companies such as
Electric Minds and HotWired before joining Whole Foods Market in 1997 to
help coordinate the development of their Internet, intranet, and ecommerce
initiatives in Austin, Texas and Boulder, Colorado, and later joined IGS,
Inc. of Boulder before moving back to Austin to form Polycot Consulting,
L.L.C.  A skilled communicator, he has written about technology for
publications such as Wired Magazine, Mondo 2000, 21C, Whole Earth Review,
Fringe Ware Review, and the Austin Chronicle. His weblog is at
http://www.weblogsky.com.

Jon is President of EFF-Austin, a member of the Austin Freenet Board of
Directors and the steering committee for the Austin Clean Energy
Initiative, and advisor for the annual South by Southwest Interactive
conference.  He is currently leading a research project on wireless
telecommunications for IC, an Austin think tank associated with the
University of Texas.

Please welcome Rebecca and Jon for a far-ranging discussion of everything
bloggy!
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #1 of 124: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 1 May 03 11:10
    
Hi, Rebecca! We should start by discussing the definition of "weblog."  
There's many definitions popping up, some emphasizing structure, and
others focusing on content. It's such a broad field, I like that you
capture the diversity by looking at three broad categories. Could you go
over those?
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #2 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 1 May 03 15:06
    
Hi Jon! First, thanks for having me here. I'm looking forward to an
interesting conversation.

Weblogs, these days, are defined by their format: a frequently updated
webpage with entries arranged in reverse-chronological order, so the
new stuff is always on top. That's a pretty open definition, which is
why I think the weblog form is so strong: it's infinitely malleable.

From there, I break weblogs up into three broad categories: blogs,
notebooks, and filters. 

Blogs are the ones people compare to online diaries. Entries tend to
be short, personal bursts about daily events and the like--almost like
a series of instant messages to the world. These sites rose to
prominence after Blogger, one of the first automated weblog updaters,
became available. It was just so easy to post that people put up the
most mundane details of their days! 

The sites I call notebooks tend to have longer, more thoughtful pieces
than the typical blog--more like an artist's journal. Some notebooks
muse on life, culture, or art; others relate personal stories, but not
necessarily as they happen. The author may dip into any part of their
life experience for the day's entry. So, notebooks tend to be personal,
but less about the day-to-day and more about ideas.

Filters are link-driven sites. Entries may be long or short, but the
intent is to highlight whatever is of interest to the maintainer.  The
original weblogs were filters, and there was great controversy within
the weblog community when the first blogs appeared on the scene. For
the first webloggers, weblogs were about the links, and some
old-skoolers still feel this way. The filter editor is, in a way,
pre-surfing the Web for his or her readers. Some filters are
subject-specific; others are more general. Filters may contain lots of
opinion and personal information, or hardly any, but they are focused
on the outside world much more than they are on the inner life of their
maintainer.
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #3 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 1 May 03 15:32
    <scribbled by jonl Thu 1 May 03 16:28>
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #4 of 124: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 1 May 03 17:58
    
What's the story behind _The Weblog Handbook_? Why did you decide to write 
about blogging?
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #5 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 1 May 03 18:23
    
It wasn't my idea. My editor is one of my readers. When Perseus
decided to do a book on weblogs, he wrote me a note asking if I'd be
interested in writing it. Of course I said yes. :)

That same day, I got an email from another fellow who was planning a
book on weblogs, asking me to participate in the public forums he had
set up to discuss the book as he was writing it (he ended up dropping
the project.) My husband looked at me and said "It's weblog-book time."
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #6 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 1 May 03 18:26
    <scribbled by soukup Thu 1 May 03 18:46>
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #7 of 124: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 1 May 03 19:02
    
Now that the book's been out a while, and you've had time to think about 
it, is there anything you think you left out, or would do differently?
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #8 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 1 May 03 19:57
    
Not too much, I don't think. There are a few technical things I would
mention (RSS and trackback are two of them). RSS gained traction very
quickly just after I finished the book. I don't think trackback had
even been introduced yet.

And I would make chapter 4 a little less sappy, maybe. (It's written
for the reader who is unsure of what to write or how to write it. I
worked to be very encouraging in that chapter, and as a result people
either love it or hate it. :)

Most of the book is non-technical, and so its less prone to becoming
outdated. It's about writing, interacting with the online community,
and carving out a place on the Web. My advice in those areas is based
on my own experience and observations since the weblog community
coalesced in 1999. There is so much that seems obvious to those who
have been online for years, but it really can be mystifying for a
newcomer. I have had a few mentors through the years who steered me
through some rocky bits--I spend part of the book trying to do that
same thing for people who want to get involved in the larger community,
but who just don't have any idea how to go about doing that.

And I suppose my vision of what weblogs can be and what they could do
is rather utopian--but I stand behind that. Weblogs are as flawed as
the people who create them, but they also have the potential to be
agents for change, even if it's just personal change. Everything good
thing in my life right now has come through my weblog--and I've heard a
dozen people say that same thing in almost the exact words. 
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #9 of 124: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 1 May 03 20:27
    
Interesting that weblogs emerged as the Internet bubble burst - do you 
think there's a connection?
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #10 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 1 May 03 20:52
    
I think the connection is to the bubble, not to the burst. Most of the
early weblog community were programmers or web designers. Remember,
there were no push-button updaters at the time--you had to know HTML in
order to create a weblog. Many of these people were spending virtually
all of their waking hours at work, creating applications and websites
for startups. The Web was their window on the world, and they looked
there first for news, entertainment, and cameraderie. They also tended
to be saavy about whatever the latest "big new thing" was. So in early
1999 when the weblog community came together, it was the most natural
thing in the world for many of these people to jump on the bandwagon
and start weblogs of their own. Reading weblogs and updating their own
became a way to keep up on current events and industry news, establish
themselves professionally, and just to take a break from coding. 

The thing that sent the curve speeding upwards was the introduction of
easy-to-use tools. starting in the summer of 1999. More than anything
else, this really is the revolution. Suddenly, anyone with an internet
connection and a browser could create a web page. In that sense, Dave
Winer, Ev Williams and Meg Hourhan, Ben and Mena Trott--the people
whose software makes this possible--are the Gutenbergs of the Web.

The one thing I would say about the burst is that suddenly lots of
people had some time on their hands. It's a truism that when someone
who has been an avid poster suddenly falls silent, they probably have
either gotten a new job or a new boy/girlfriend. :)
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #11 of 124: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 2 May 03 05:59
    
Just for grins, I dropped "the first weblog" into Google... with 
interesting results:

>>>

" The first weblog was the first website, http://info.cern.ch/, the site 
built by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN." - Dave Winer

"For what it's worth, I'd like a little credit, please. I didn't use the 
word 'weblog' or 'blog' until very recently, but I began using vi on a 
UNIX shell account to publish a regularly-updated web page in March of 
1995 - surely that counts for something? That predates a lot of things on 
the web." - Phillip Winn

"Jun 1993: Oldest archived NCSA "What's New Page" page. The archive 
contains the page from Jun 1993 to Jun 1996.

Jan 1994: Justin Hall starts "Justin's Home Page" -- which would soon 
become Links from the Underground [history], an important personal site 
and perhaps one of the first weblogs."

- some history found at chymes.org

"    Mosaic's What's New page was started by Marc Andreesen, I think.

    Justin Hall's Links from the Underground was one early prototype 
[history].

    William Gibson foresaw professional weblogging in 1996:

    Robot Wisdom Weblog was the first to use the name 'weblog', in 
December 1997."

- more history from whorlpool.org

<<<

The which-came-first debate raises the question whether content and
structure are the defining weblog characteristics. Doesn't it make more
sense to say that weblogs really originated when simple content management
systems were deployed by the people you mention? I.e. Blogger by Ev and 
Meg, Radio Userland by Dave Winer, Movable Type by Ben and Mena?
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #12 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Fri 2 May 03 12:05
    
Well, by that standard, I still haven't started my weblog yet! Tools
designed to update weblogs arose from the form, not the other way
around. By tying the definition of a weblog to the tools, you cut out
the original weblog community--the inventors of the form--and those of
us who still haven't moved to one of the tools: the few, the brave, the
proud, the hand coders--
http://tantek.com/log/2003/04.html#blog20030423t1659. And what about
those people who have programmed their own content management systems?

At this point I think the most useful definition for a weblog is by
format: a frequently updated webpage with entries arranged in reverse
chronological order. I've seen people try to expand that definition to
include almost any webpage--and writers and one radio commentator who
have claimed that they've been "blogging" in offline venues for years.
To expand the definition in any of those directions makes the
definition of "blog" broad to the point of ridiculousness. 

At the same time, narrowing it to require that a weblog be created
with certain software quickly becomes contentious (whose software? why
don't Notepad and WS-FTP count?) and leaves out a whole swath of
people. Even requiring certain features is a losing battle.

It's true that the vast majority of weblogs contain permalinks, for
example, but there are still a few of the original weblogs that do not,
and I'm loathe to leave them out of a discussion they helped start.
Many weblogs now feature trackback--but many more don't. What about
comments? Or an RSS feed? If the software you use offers those things,
you may choose to employ them, but what if you don't? What if the
software you use doesn't offer the feature du jour?

All of those features--archives, permalinks, trackback,
comments--arose from the behavior of the weblog community itself. They
facilitate behaviors that bloggers were engaged in by brute force, if
you will. They are commonly found on weblogs, but who gets to decide
which ones are canonical, and which optional? Focusing on the format
gives us a clear sense of which websites we are talking about, while at
the same time leaving the form open for experimentation. 

---

The history of weblogs is controversial, for sure. I regard the NCSA
"What's New" page as a prototype. I've run into numerous people who
were maintaining their weblogs (as defined by format) in 1997 or 1998.
Because there were people inventing this form all over the Web, many of
them unaware of each other, I view the history of weblogs as the
history of the community that came together in 1999. How they found
each other, what happened after they started linking to each other, and
where weblogs went from there. There are others who believe the
history of weblogs should be a history of software or individual web
sites or personalities. 

FWIW, I regard Justin Hall as a unique case. Perhaps he is the father
of the journaling community (which predates the weblogs by years).
Justin started a weblog, bud.com, back in (I believe) 1999. Of course,
this is back when weblogs were about links, so I think he saw the
weblog as being different from his online journal. What Justin has done
with links.net is different than what the bloggers or even many of the
journalers are doing. He's spent the last 8 years putting his life
online. Justin is an early hominid from which many branches of personal
publishing can be traced.
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #13 of 124: Christian Crumlish (xian) Fri 2 May 03 14:23
    
hi, Rebecca! While you're on the Well, please drop by the blog.ind
conference, which JonL and I host (if you can find the time). 

I'm a little curious about your terminology choices, since blog comes
from weblog and Jorn Barger's definition was really more what you tend
to call a filter. Then again, I think usage now fits what you say,
since most people call their personal logs "blogs."

I think I started with a notebook (http://ezone.org/xian/breathing/)
which was one of them hand-coded, simple navigation, no
bells-and-whistles online journals (remember the diary-l mailing list),
and I used it as a daily writing practice and a place to air my
thoughts, rarely linking out to the external web. Today I think a site
like this would be called a blog, but of course we hadn't heard that
word yet (this was 1997).
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #14 of 124: Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 2 May 03 14:25
    
Terminology seems kind of sticky here.

For some reason, the word "blog" is a HUGE turnoff to me. I do use it
sometimes, but only because I feel that I must in order to be understood by
some of the people I'm talking to. I don't know why it bothers me so much,
but I do hate it...
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #15 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Fri 2 May 03 15:12
    
Christian, you're right, blog does come from weblog, and weblog comes
from Jorn, who maintains a filter-style site. Read about it here:
<http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html>

But distinctions are useful if you're going to talk about weblogs.
People just talk in circles when one of them is using the term "weblog"
to describe a link-driven site and another to refer to a teenage
girl's online diary. When I talk to reporters, the first thing I have
to do is to figure out which kind of site they are thinking of when
they start asking questions. "Why would someone maintain a filter?" is
a very different question from "Why does someone maintain an online
diary?"

So assuming that the format makes it a weblog, what do we have?

Well, we have link-driven sites. Sites that are essentially
pre-surfing the Web. "Links and commentary" was the definition of a
weblog back in the day, and there are still lots of sites doing just
that. I think the term "filter" clearly describes what they do.

And we have the short-form diary-style sites. Maintainers of these
sites almost universally referred to themselves as "blogs" when they
first began appearing, and I think it's because most of them were using
a tool called "Blogger" to create their sites. The Blogger interface
doesn't encourage the addition of a link--it encourages a post. I think
that's one of the reasons blog-style became so popular so quickly.

Notebooks--I just made that up. I kept running across sites that were
personal but not diaristic, with longer, more introspective pieces,
more finished pieces of writing. Some of them featured links, but they
weren't about the links as much as they were about ideas. They seemed
to me to be something different from the two other extremes.

The truth is, of course, that most weblogs do all three things from
time to time, and weblogs change over time. Some people move to longer,
more thought-out pieces from the shorter style blurt; some of the
original filters now use links as springboards for extended posts on
their own point of view. The latest fad is notebook-style pieces in the
main site, with a list of links in the sidebar to satisfy that primal
urge to share links. I've heard people describe my site as a notebook
after reading my definitions; I think of it as a filter, but I do
definitely write longer posts now <http://www.rebeccablood.net/> than I
did when I began <http://www.rebeccablood.net/archive/1999/04.html>. 

None of these definitions is cut and dried, I was just trying to
provide a framework for discussing the varieties of weblogs that have
emerged over the years.

Sean: I feel your pain. I don't like the term, either, and I like even
less the habit people have of appending it to any and all words. Just
call your site a weblog--or go all old-school and call it a "home
page". :)
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #16 of 124: Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 2 May 03 15:25
    <scribbled by sharding Fri 2 May 03 15:26>
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #17 of 124: Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 2 May 03 15:31
    
I'm reposting that last one because I accidentally posted it before I 
was finished...

Yes, I just call mine a "weblog" for the most part.
 
One thing I've been thinking about a bit lately (and posting about on the
Well, but not on my weblog) is the range of topics covered by weblogs.
While there are probably weblogs out there that relate to nearly any 
topic one can imagine, most of the high profile ones fall into one of a 
small number of categories. Weblogging at the moment seems to be 
disproportionately focused on weblogging about weblogging ("metablogging"
if you don't mind another "blog" word), politics and web technology. 
 
In my mind, this is much like having 200 channels of cable, with 100
of them broadcasting only sports and the other 100 running shows about
making TV shows.  It's great if you're a sports nut or a video geek,
but otherwise it's a little frustrating. I personally feel a great 
hunger for weblogs about other topics. The politics thing is simply
overdone in my mind, and I don't care enough about weblogging itself
(this may even be another form of politics if you think about it) to
want to read dozens of daily posts about it. So I spend time trying to
find more weblogs that are to my liking. But since so much of the
weblog world focuses around the core ("a-list") weblogs, and most of 
the core weblogs are centered on politics (Instapundit) or weblogging
(Scripting News), it's a bit hard to escape.

Last time I brought this up, someone presented the idea that these topics
are what sustains weblogging at the moment. Especially in that they feed
on back and forth writing and frequent updates. I find that idea interesting,
and it's not something that had occurred to me before. 

What do you think about the topics that get covered in weblogs? Do you
think that the popular weblogs will diversify over time, or do you think
that these (or some other small number of) core themes will always be
at the top of the popularity list?

(BTW, I don't want to steal the thoughts of the person who posted about
these topics sustaining weblogging, but I also don't want to "out" them
in this world-readable forum if they don't want to be known here. If that
person is reading, please feel free to claim that thought).
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #18 of 124: rebecca blood (rebeccablood) Fri 2 May 03 15:54
    
Sean, what kinds of topics are you looking for? I have lots of kinds
of weblogs listed on my portal--knitting, books, environmental, food,
and what I call "weblogs of place" (modern day Thoreaus). The longer
sections have weblogs that are less subject specific, but cover a
variety of topics. http://www.rebeccablood.net/portal.html.

You might try doing a google search for "topic blog" just to see if
one on that topic exists.

Politics will always be popular, in my opinion: some people can't get
enough of reading and discussing politics. Weblogs about blogging will
be popular with a subset of bloggers--and few others. Web
technology--well, those are the people most likely to know about
weblogs, really. There may always be a strong contingent of technical
weblogs, and why not? This is where lots of the innovation occurs.

More people have not heard about weblogs than have. Over time, I think
we'll see even more diversification: the knitting weblogs sprung up
out of nowhere last summer, as far as I can tell. As more people
discover the form, more people will create their own sites about
whatever they are interested in, and then others will be inspired to
join in.

It's interesting, because *my* frustration is the opposite of yours:
there are too many interesting weblogs for me to follow. But I agree
that it's difficult to find that first weblog on a topic. Most weblogs
cluster so tightly that one will lead you only to others of the same
type. From whatever weblog you are on, it's almost impossible to find
your way to a different type of site. I think this is why so much of
the press coverage about weblogs has been so clueless. Reporters start
with a political weblog and click all the links on the page--to other
political weblogs. Or a programmer's weblog--to other technical
weblogs. It's not entirely their fault. From where they are, most of
the weblog universe is invisible.
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #19 of 124: Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 2 May 03 16:05
    
Thanks, I'll take a look at your portal.

It's been difficult for me to elucidate the weblog topics I'm looking for;
I've always found it easier to describe the ones I'm *not* looking for.
Perhaps this is because the most significant factor in my enjoyment of
a weblog tends to be the style rather than the topics covered. This also 
makes it somewhat more difficult to use a given weblog as a jumping off 
point for others I'd like. While I may find a sports weblog I can't get 
enough of, I could be bored to tears by every other sports weblog out 
there. 

For me, I think it's just a matter of being persistent. It's hard for me
to find weblogs to read by looking at Google. And because of the heavy
politics and meta focus, sites like Technorati and Daypop aren't of 
much use. But I do find ones I like by continuing to click around. I know
they're out there, and finding a good one is usually worth the days or
weeks of fruitless clicking that preceded its discovery.
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #20 of 124: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 2 May 03 16:58
    
I find weblogs through blogrolls and pointers that others post. I'm always 
surprised how much great new voices are emerging. It's getting harder to 
keep track. Not long ago Joi Ito posted that he'd removed anybody he 
didn't know personally from his blogroll, and I did the same thing a few 
days ago - neighbors. That's one way to narrow the range.
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #21 of 124: Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 2 May 03 17:32
    
I pretty much don't follow any site that doesn't have an RSS feed unless
it's extraordinarily compelling in some other way. I can count the number of
those on one hand, and most are people I know from long before I got
into reading weblogs. There are tons of RSS feeds I follow from people
I don't know, though. The overhead in following them is much lower for me.

The "blogroll" I actually post on my weblog is somewhat different from
the list of weblogs I follow. I do follow all of the weblogs listed there,
but there are a lot in my RSS reader that I don't have listed on my 
weblog blogroll.
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #22 of 124: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 2 May 03 21:14
    
Hi Rebecca....

I've read your book and thought the insides were quite good (although I 
must confess that I don't like the cover at all.  

IMO, whoever designed the cover of the book needs to go back 
to design school  (I hope it wasn't you! :o)  )

For those of you who haven't seen the cover,  it's at

<http://tinyurl.com/avcd>

It just doesn't say much about the book-- it's jarring, and the way 
that the text runs into each other doesn't really work for me.

It's a good thing I don't judge a book by its cover!

Was there discussion about the cover?  Did you have any input in regards 
to that?
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #23 of 124: Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Sat 3 May 03 09:20
    
 I just wanted to jump in and say "Hi."  I don't have any questions 
right now, I just wanted to thank Rebecca for stopping by.

 I would like to add (apropos of Sean's comments above, perhaps), is
that one of the best thing about weblogging in the past couple of
years has been the explosion of weblogs by topic experts.  A few years
ago, I basically never linked to other blogs, because it was all so
meta and I wanted to link to more original source material.  Now tons
of what I'd refer to as source material is being published first on
weblogs.

 Obviously politics and tech are two big areas that get blanket
coverage, but even those areas have grown so much more deep lately.  I
mean, the lead developer of Safari has a weblog where he talks about
what he's working on and seeks comment from users.  We have political
weblogs written by mainstream journalists who are putting out some of
their best stuff on personal sites (like Josh Marshall or the
execrable Andrew Sullivan).  

 The number of law related weblogs where some of the best legal
coverage anywhere is being posted is just staggering right now.  I
don't know how any lawyer who cares about appellate law could avoid
reading How Appealing these days (it's written by Howard Bashman).  

 There are tons of other examples as well, and I think that as more
people see how you can raise your professional stature by maintaining
a site where you write intelligent stuff, I think this trend will only
grow.  I find it incredibly exciting to be able to read real expert
level coverage of various fields without being tapped in to any great
degree (like working in that field or even reading the trade rags from
it).
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #24 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Sat 3 May 03 14:27
    
> Jon: I find weblogs through blogrolls and pointers that others post.
I'm always surprised how much great new voices are emerging. It's
getting harder to keep track. <

And from my referrers. Every so often I'll find a hit or two from an
unfamiliar site, and if I have time I'll go check it out. Usually our
set of interests mesh somewhat (or they wouldn't have linked to me in
the first place) and--as you say, Jon--often the work is just
wonderful. I'm constantly impressed with the number of talented
amateurs who are writing on their weblogs every day.

I'va also watched many a weblog go from being okay to being extremely
well-written in just a matter of months. It's really true: writing
every day is the best way to become a better writer.

> Sean: I pretty much don't follow any site that doesn't have an RSS
feed unless it's extraordinarily compelling in some other way. <

I hear that from more and more people (many of whom write to request
that I provide one.) It seems like RSS just exploded in the last year,
going from something that Radio users and a few other techies were
using, to an essential tool for a large number of people. Again, I
think this has something to do with the large number of really
high-quality weblogs being produced. People are trying to follow too
many weblogs!
  
inkwell.vue.182 : Rebecca Blood, "The Weblog Handbook"
permalink #25 of 124: Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Sat 3 May 03 14:44
    
> Kafclown: Was there discussion about the cover?  Did you have any
input in regards to that? <

There was a *lot* of discussion about the cover. My contract
stipulated that I had input on the cover and book design. When I was
presented with an early version of this cover, I rejected it: the last
thing I wanted my book to be was another web safe green book. I had
suggested a white cover--something that would match my own design
aesthetic. But my editor suggested that white covers (especially when
they are matte, as I wanted my book cover to be) got dirty quite
quickly just sitting on the shelf. 

But as the book designer worked out more iterations of the design, two
things happened: I grew to like it better, and we ran out of time.
Perseus was quite keen to be first to market with a book on weblogs, so
the writing and production schedules were quite accelerated. When we
came down to the wire, I just told my editor to go with what we had: I
had grown to like it, and I didn't think it was worth holding up
production for. (I have to say, I'm not sure whether they really would
have let me hold up production for this. I know they would have tried
to accommodate me, but my contract says: "The Publisher shall consult
with the Author on the text and jacket design". I would have expected
them to just put their foot down at a certain point if they felt I was
being unreasonable.) A few people have told me how attractive they
think the book cover is, so the cover is a success in some circles. And
I have noticed that the book stands out on the shelf, especially when
it's turned facing out. So, I've come to quite like it.
  

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