Count me in as returning newspaper reader, and I'm definitely one of the folks that make up the above statistic for the Chicago Sun-Times. However in my case, they have NewsIsFree and Radio's news aggregator to thank for my eyeballs. Because the Sun-Times is in my aggregator and the Chicago Tribune isn't, I've effectively switched papers. We still get the Sunday Tribune, but the only parts of it I still occasionally read are the Arts section, Travel section, comics, and ads. For articles, I'm really only reading the Sun-Times these days.
Perseus Publishing was kind enough to send me copies of The Weblog Handbook and We've Got Blog, which I received this weekend, so I've found my vacation reading (major thanks to John and Rebecca!). I'm going to read both with an open mind, despite Dave's negative reviews. I understand Dave's points (especially if there are factual errors), but the people criticizing books about blogs are too close to the phenomenon. The other 99% of the world (almost everyone in my family, my neighborhood, my office, etc.) hasn't the slightest clue or care about them. They don't read the web daily, let alone track dozens of sites, so a book is still a necessary format for conveying this type of information. In fact, for them it lends credence to the movement, so the more books on the topic, the merrier.
I had something similar happen to me when I was the Technology Coordinator at the Grande Prairie Public Library District. In 1996, I implemented the first public internet access at a public library in Chicago's south suburbs (on a dial-up 28k modem, no less). We signed residents up for free Prairienet email accounts, and I started to build a virtual reference desk. My colleagues, however, were buying books about the internet, even though I kept telling them that everything they - and the patrons - needed to know was online. They bought the NetGuide series, the Yellow Pages directories of web sites, and scads of other titles that were out-of-date the minute they were printed.
Why? Because the patrons didn't have time to sit on our one computer with internet access and learn about the internet as they experienced it. We allowed a patron one hour a day on that dial-up account, which didn't leave much time for actual learning. And those were the people brave enough to try it out for themselves. The others could do nothing but read the books to try and get a handle on this new-fangled internet thing.
Now I find myself in the same situation with blogs. I plan to implement them for every service area at SLS and on a personal level for staff internally and yet, I'd be surprised if even 10% of our staff understand what they are. I covered blogs at our SLS Tech Summit in March, but it was still too confusing and irrelevant for most of the librarians that attended that session. Next time, I'll be able to hold up these books, and they'll take me more seriously. Sorry, but that's how most of the world still works. They'll purchase them for their libraries, too, which means the concept of blogs will officially be cataloged and indexed in our collective memory (not just the memory of those of us who live online).
And as a librarian, I feel it's important to get some historical perspective and preservation of the early years. Dave, you should fill in what you feel are Rebecca's gaps - preserve your moments in time. I know it would feel weird to record them on paper rather than online, but static snapshots are also valuable, especially ones unedited by hindsight. Ironically, the wave of books about blogging may be a tipping point, one that will help the format (and therefore the software) enter the collective mainstream consciousness.
So Bill, it may not be rocket science, but it's a new type of software, even a new type of language. We don't learn only rocket science from books. If you're not blogging yourself, then the books can teach you quite a bit. Think about how many programming languages you've learned using a book, rather than learning everything online (HTML, Perl, whatever). Why are printed O'Reilly and 24-Hour guides still so popular? Because books continue to teach. Let's not lose sight of that fact just because the content refers to online content and tools.
There's a reason ideas like The Cluetrain Manifesto also end up as books, and blogging is a concept/format/software/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that deserves the same type of recognition. If The Onion deserves the testimony of print, don't you think blogging does, too? (Of course, what would be truly disappointing is if these books are not also available as ebooks or Audible titles!)
Blogroll (Sites I Read in My Aggregator)
Mobile Blogroll (Sites I Read on My Treo 600)
Spreading the meme:
Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian