Learning Emerging Media

Suggested Reading I

Posted by emac3326 on August 21, 2006

Many students have asked me about reading lists. I’ve posted only one book, on podcasting, for required reading. The reason I have not posted any books on blogs is, well, many of the blog books are relatively old (2002-2004) and everything changes so fast. The books seem outdated to me.

The book I wanted to use, naked conversations, how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, may be used by Professor Terry. The book may also be a bit advanced for the beginning-level course. However, that said, I still think the book is an invaluable, and up to date, read on the importance of blogging today. Blogging is no longer just for the blogging community, so to speak, and it’s being adopted for strategic purposes by businesses of all sorts, including Microsoft, where Scoble used to work. I’ve noticed, too, that many of the blogging books that have just been released, or are going to be released in the coming months, are focused on business.

A decent “historical” book on blogging is Who Let the Blogs Out, a Hyperconnected Peek at the World of Weblogs, by Biz Stone. Stone is a bit of a character, and somewhat full of himself, but he has pedigree: He helped create the popular weblog community Xanga.com and is a senior specialist for blogging at Google.

Rebecca Blood’s we’ve got blog, how weblogs are changing our future is also a good historical read on blogs. However, it was collected and edited in early 2002, so it’s a bit old. Even so, there are many early postings collected in the edition that are worth reading.

If you want to read a somewhat different perspective on blogs, Hugh Hewitt’s Blog, Understanding the Information Revolution that’s Changing Your World is worth the effort, even if I am not a fan of Hewitt’s. Hewitt writes from a bit of a right-wing perspective, and that’s OK, for the most part, because any blog reader and writer should get both perspectives so as not to live inside the “echo chamber,” or “preaching to the choir.” Even so, I find his arguments one-sided and not very enlightening.

One of my favorite books of all time is David Weinberger’s Small Pieces Loosely Joined, a unified theory of the web. You’ll either love it or hate it. I found the book to be a bit esoteric, and hard to follow at times, but it’s left a profound impact on me. It’s given me a true understanding of what’s happening, not so much in new media, but on the web in general. When we discuss in class how can we trust a blog poster, or anybody who is non-traditional media (I know, we don’t always trust non-traditional media, but that’s another posting), Weinberger offered up interesting insight. As co-author to the Cluetrain Manifesto, Weinberger, and others of his ilk, see the web as a series of conversations and that we, as humans, are able to naturally weed out what we believe and don’t believe, the same as we do listening to co-workers, the evening news, the chat at church. “We do on the web what we do in the real world: we listen to the context, allow ourselves to be guided by details that we think embody the whole, and we decide how much of what this person says we’re going to believe,” Weinberger writes.

More later.


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