I became a blogger, although I didn’t know it at the time, when I started the Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2000 web site in July 1999. The site was part of a teaching project I was developing at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in conjunction with my doctoral program. I offered analysis of campaign speeches, but the site also included a regularly updated commentary on campaign news as it related to the rhetorical performances of the candidates. I’ve since graduated and begun a new site on a new server. But my first blog still exists as a .pdf archive here (1.5 mb).
Despite my early foray into blogging, I would not call myself an expert or even an old hand. So I was eager to read Rebecca Blood’s new book “The Weblog Handbook,” published by Perseus (ISBN 0-7382-0756-X). As often happens with good books, I found myself wishing it had come along just a little earlier. I’ve done a few of her “don’ts” and not done a few of her “dos.” But, as I write this, I feel my feet now stepping along the right path. The handbook is packed with excellent advice for neophytes and experts alike. And Blood’s writing is clear and engaging.
The handbook offers more than how-to advice. I was particularly interested in her commentary about the differences between journalism and blogging, including cogent advice on weblog ethics for those of us who would aspire to earn the trust of our readers and the attention of the public sphere. Combined with excellent advice on writing–personal voice and audience in particular–I will be developing a rhetoric class at Park University using “The Weblog Handbook” as the primary text. Blood has more to teach us than simply the basics of starting and running a weblog.