Wednesday, January 19

REread: Blog, Hugh Hewitt

Don’t Be A Bump On A Blog
Mike Marchand
REread: Blog: Understanding The Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, Hugh Hewitt
January 18, 2005

Writing a book about blogging would seem to be a futile exercise, an oxymoronic anachronism. The whole purpose of blogs is to establish and serve a readership in real time, or as close as humanly possible. New information zips around the blogosphere at light speed, so to encapsulate the history and purpose of blogs in the form of a book, which can only update slowly with future editions if at all, would be as if in 1969 NASA decided to take the plaque Apollo 11 was to plant on the moon and instead install it at Kitty Hawk. Radio host, author, and blogger Hugh Hewitt spends 200-plus pages arguing that the new medium of blogs is making the old medium of print at least partially obsolete, and yet offers that argument in print.

But that’s entirely the point. Anyone who already believed in Hewitt’s thesis and has witnessed the power of the blogosphere doesn’t need convincing. Blog is for the people who doubt, and for those unfortunate people living under rocks who’ve yet to be exposed to the concept. Furthermore, Blog is for the people who might have tapped into the blogosphere once or twice and concluded that it was nothing more than just another political snowball fight, a long-distance Crossfire using binary code. It’s not. As Hewitt proposes in the subtitle of the book and stresses throughout its pages, the blogosphere not only will change the world — it already has.

Hewitt begins with brief refresher courses on four events in which the blogosphere played an important, if not the most important role: Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) stepping down from his post of Majority Leader, the resignations of editor Howell Raines and assistant Gerald Boyd from The New York Times, the debunking of some of John Kerry’s Vietnam fables, and the exposé of fraudulent documents used by CBS’ 60 Minutes Wednesday. In each, the lesson is the same: not simply that the blogosphere is a powerful enemy (it can be, but it’s far too decentralized to operate as a collective in that fashion) but that those in power can no longer get away with trying to sucker the people, and certainly that you can’t attempt to cover up that suckering with further deceit. It’s an age-old problem, but now the victims have high-tech remedies.

With recent history established, Hewitt takes us in his wayback machine to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to demonstrate that the blogosphere and everyone who operates within it are the rightful heirs to the legacies of Johannes Gutenberg (who invented the first movable-type printing press in 1449, prompting rapid dissemination of information and eventually a blog publishing platform) and Martin Luther (who used that new paradigm to start the Protestant Reformation in 1517).

Sound farfetched? It might. But consider that the Protestant Reformation took thirteen years, from when Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Church at Wittenberg in 1517 to when the Council of Augsburg finally split with the Catholic Church in 1530 (of course, the foundations for the schism were centuries in the making). Watergate took two years, from the original hotel burglary in June 1972 to President Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. But 60 Minutes Wednesday was brought down in less than a day. Technology has finally caught up with the speed of human thought, and it’s now so inexpensive and user-friendly that anyone can bypass the old channels to instantly publish facts, opinions, thoughts, reviews, recipes, designs — literally anything one can think of. The first books took months for their ideas to disseminate. Woodward and Bernstein could only update their news daily. But blogs exist in real time.

The idea of an open-source universe may be frightening, but Hewitt explains that it’s here, and anybody who doesn’t take advantage of it will be hopelessly behind the curve. Fortunately, as a successful blogger himself, Hewitt is willing to assist anyone who wishes to spread their message — whether it’s the message of a company’s products, an artist’s work, an author’s book, a hobbyist’s activity, a guy in pajamas’ political opinions, or even, yes, the message of the gospels of Jesus Christ or any other faith. There is literally no category of life that a blog can’t assist, or even if one doesn’t believe that, then the specters of Lott, Raines, Kerry, and Dan Rather should at least convince the unbelievers of the need for a blog even for strictly defensive purposes.

Blog isn’t a perfect book. It’s admittedly rushed: while the blogosphere has grown rapidly since 1999, it flew under the radars of the world until 2004, and in order to provide the non-blogging world with this information as immediately as possible, Hewitt had to step on the gas. He’s stated that there are “at least nine proofing errors” (I’ve found five so far), and on page 36 (hardcover), he uses, but does not define, the term “fisking”: a neologism which has a rich tradition in the blogosphere but would leave everyone who’s out of the loop scratching their heads. (Here’s the definition, if you don’t already know.)

But in its own way, that just adds to the urgency of Hewitt’s point. How will these inaccuracies be corrected? By the blogosphere, who right now is devouring Blog and offering their comments, corrections, and opinions in their own blogs. So now we’ve come full-circle.

You’d have to be extremely clueless not to understand that the Internet has changed the world. Blogs are simply the zenith of the form: a message posted (and then, hopefully, linked to by others) that can echo around cyberspace in an instant and be accessed by anybody in the world for virtually free. If you don’t understand how that system can help you, then you deserve to be left behind.

But then again, if you read and understand Blog, you won’t.


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

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August 8, 2005: High Gas Prices
August 1, 2005: Judge Roberts' Hearings
June 20, 2005: Senator Durbin's Comments
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April 25, 2005: Lebanon
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marchand chronicles has such massive readership and influence that it makes me weep.
—Glenn Reynolds


Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

Dean Barnett, Soxblog
Psst, it's "Mike."

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All text and original images © MMVI by Mike Marchand/Marchand Chronicles.

Okay, so I don't really have a copyright. But I still don't want you ripping me off. Reprint it all over the Internet if you like, but give me proper credit and link back to me. Besides, if you're going to plagiarize, steal from someone with some talent.

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