I knew this question was one that I'd face upon publication of Say Everything. Blogs are such a flexible form that they seem to vacuum up everything around them.
But this assumption that anything about blogs ought to be contained in a blog doesn't stand up to any kind of close examination. When we want to learn more about, say, musicians, we don't assume all the information will come in musical form; many fine words and tomes have been written about painters, dancers, architects, and so on.
Blogs are great for telling stories that are unfolding in real time, for exposing processes (of thought as well as work), and for engaging in back-and-forth with other bloggers. But they are inevitably fragmentary; they privilege tree over forest.
The whole point of tackling a subject in book form is to say, "This thing I'm writing about has some heft. It demands scope. It needs a long arc." So you say that, and then you try to deliver on the promise — to pay back the reader's investment of time with interest.
Does the story of blogging support such claims? You'll have to make that call for yourself. For me, of course, there was never any question. The experience of writing this book was less a matter of "Is there enough here?" than "How do I cram this vast wealth of great material into one modest volume?"
I guess I could have fit in more of that material if I'd done the whole thing as a blog — where there's no page count to worry about. But I wouldn't have had the opportunity to try to connect all the dots and tie the stories together into one panorama. In writing Say Everything, that's precisely where I found the fun.
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Scott Rosenberg is a cofounder of Salon.com, where he long served as managing editor, and is the author of Dreaming in Code.
Books mentioned in this post
Scott Rosenberg is the author of Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters