This picture of the two beautiful girls above was sent to me by a reader who is farther South than I am and did not get nearly as much snow as we did in NC. These resourceful girls didn't let that keep them from getting their snowman, though.
First, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must address the matter of bias. I write for a blog, therefore I have a point of view of my own about the subject of the book. The blog I write for, Polipundit, has been promoted generously by Hugh Hewitt through links and specific recommendations. Polipundit is named several times in the book.
The topic of blogger bias is actually discussed in the book and is one reason blogs have become so popular. Hewitt explains that "honest members of the elite media" will admit personally that those they work with have a liberal bias and voted for Gore or Nader in 2000, "but they don't and they can't admit the above to the public, even though the consumer of news and information knows that." With blogs, the public gets full disclosure and is able to make an informed decision about which sources of news to trust.
That being said, and doing my best to set bias aside, I highly recommend Hugh Hewitt's new book, both to those already deeply immersed in the blogosphere and also to those like my friends and family who look at me a little like I just told a dirty joke when I tell them "I blog." In a fairly "quick read" --223 pages-- Hewitt tells the story of the blog in three separate parts -- past, present and future. In those 223 pages, he goes from being teacher and historian by telling the history of the web log and detailing the top stories where blogs made a difference, to playing the role of marketing director by providing a list of blogs for new readers, telling business leaders what a blog could do for their product or organization, and explaining to readers how they can start their own blog. He packs quite a lot of information into a relatively small package.
What I enjoyed most about the book is the combination of the general, big picture overview of the scope and importance of the blogosphere, with the more detailed nuts and bolts view providing instructions for starting a new blog or improving an existing one. The big picture includes a comparison of what Hewitt calls the "information reformation" to the Protestant Reformation. (This is an idea I found interesting when I linked to this post by Kim Schratwieser earlier this month.) Hewitt, in an entire chapter, goes into great detail making the case for the comparison of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, led by Luther, and made possible by "Gutenberg's gift of the printed page," to the information reformation of the twenty-first century, made possible by the internet. He talks about the incredible growth of blogs "from 1 to 4,000,000 in five years" and provides plenty of proof of their influence from Trent Lott to Rathergate.
On the nuts and bolts aspects of the book, Hewitt, after having made the case of the increasing growth and influence of blogs, cautions business leaders that if they ignore blogs they will be overlooking the marketing tool of the future. He then gives some excellent advice for various ways to make the blog a part of several diverse types of businesses. Although Hewitt discusses nuts and bolts, the book never gets too technical. In fact, Hewitt make the case that "being a technophobe is no barrier to blogging." The following entirely makes his point: "I learned how to spell-check in September of 2004. I had been blogging for two years by that point." He goes on to say "Design-savvy bloggers mock my layout, and rightly so...I am still unsure what an RSS feed is and have trouble making the permalinks work -- but it does not matter! That's the point. It is all about the content." Amen, Brother Hugh.
I have been snowed and iced in for the past three days. We finally ventured out of our subdivision this evening and found most of the roads okay, but the one my house is on is still pretty treacherous. My kids have had a ball since they got a new sled from Santa, but I am a little stir crazy.
Above is a somewhat out of focus picture of all I could see of the pansies planted in my flowerbed. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it looked extremely cool. I guess it was, come to think of it, literally.
I have asked readers here and at Polipundit for their favorite blog moments and have already gotten some incredibly interesting responses which I will post later this week. I would now like to share my personal most memorable blog moments from the past year.
1. The first is when Polipundit invited me to be a guest blogger, and later a regular contributor. I will be eternally grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the Polipundit blog.
2. The next big blog moment for me was on August 4 when I posted on the first Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad. Sometime during that day I had heard that the ad was coming out and after a little surfing the net that night I found it and could not believe how powerful it was. I immediately started going down my favorites list and clicking on links to my favorite blogs to find out if everyone else had the same reaction to the ad. To my surprise, I did not find one blogger who had posted anything about the ad. I posted this at Polipundit and then continued to search for blogger reaction. Finding none, I sent an email to a dozen or so of my favorite bloggers simply saying "this is the most devastating political ad I have ever seen" and giving them a link to and the text of my "Speechless" post. A little over an hour later, Glenn Reynolds linked to my post and all heck broke loose. In the first few hours after my initial post there were over 250 comments made at Polipundit about the ad. Unfortunately, since we switched from Blogger sometime after that, we no longer have the comments in our archives. It would be fun to be able to look back at them because I remember the incredible excitment that the ad generated. Most all who saw the ad were as impressed as I was, although at first Polipundit was afraid it might be too harsh to be effective. (The fact that the Polipundit bloggers don't always think in lock step is one reason I believe Polipundit enjoyed such success this past year.)
Early on in the comments I read, readers were saying they had followed my link to the Swift Boat Vets' site and had donated money to them. That night I got a small feeling that maybe the things I wrote actually had some influence on the opinions of others. Even more humbling, I realized that those opinions inspired action, both in money donations to the Swifties and various candidates, and later in the campaign in GOTV volunteer activity.
(When reviewing the archives to find the links for this post I was flabbergasted at how many items were posted at Polipundit on that one day, August 4th. What flabbergasted me was not the sheer number of posts, but the length and quality of them. For a blast from the past, pull up the Polipundit archives for August 4, 2004 and read the items that were posted on that one day. It is amazing how much was going on during that time period and, if I remember correctly, things didn't slow down much between then and the election.)
3. My most recent memorable blog moment began with a post which begat the naming of Rathergate. As all other bloggers, I was blown away by the implications of the story broken by Free Republic poster "Buckhead", Power Line and Little Green Footballs. All of us at Polipundit were following the breaking news closely, passing it on to our readers and posting our analysis of the various revelations. I was finding it cumbersome to reference the growing scandal by a multi-word description sounding something like "the 60 Minutes Dan Rather Bush National Guard forged documents scandal". I asked Polipundit readers to come up with a shorter name. In the first comment, JorgXMcKie suggested the name Rathergate (which he believed he saw first at Captain's Quarters or Roger L. Simon) and when Lori from Texas, a mother of six, said that the name had to include the superscript "th," I knew we had a winner. From that point on, Rathergate quickly became the Polipundit readers' name of choice for the scandal, as well as everyone else's. Everytime I hear a pundit or news anchor on television refer to the scandal as Rathergate, I can hardly believe that something solicited from readers of our little 'ol blog, and passed along by this stay-at-home mom member of the pajamahadeen, spread so far and wide. The idea that the term submitted by Polipundit readers, and chosen by me, will likely appear in history books is absolutely unbelievable.
I am interested in finding out what my readers think were the blog high points of 2004. I expect that anyone's list has to include at the top the work Power Line and Little Green Footballs and others did on the Rathergate story. What are some of your other favorite blog moments? I will be posting some of these here and at Polipundit. Please submit your favorites in the comments section.
Hugh Hewitt has the excerpt from the Hardball interview with Lynne Cheney where she discusses her favorite blogs. It is really exciting to think that some of the pundits, and even newsmakers, that I follow on television might be reading this blog. Mrs. Cheney didn't mention Polipundit, but who knows, she may read us from time to time. I won't name names, but I have received emails from several pundits that I have watched on television for years, who read Polipundit.
The thought that a person who gets paid to appear on television and discuss their thoughts and opinions on the news of the day occassionally reads something I have written, and possibly even takes with them some of the ideas or theories I have put forth, is a perfect illustration of the power of the blog to empower average Americans. You can't get much more average than a stay-at-home mom in North Carolina.