Twelve years after the first self-proclaimed weblog by Jorn Barger, Salon cofounder Scott Rosenberg has come out with a history of blogging — Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters — which will be released tomorrow. Rosenberg, who has his own blog, talks of Barger and other early bloggers in this video. The most influential of them was Dave Winer of Scripting News, he says. But the roots of blogging go back to essayists like Montaigne, he adds.
Here's an excerpt from his book, taken from Salon:
Reading is as much a part of blogging as writing; listening is as important as speaking. This is what so many bloggers mean when they claim that "blogging is a conversation"…
Bloggers are the most autonomous writers the world has yet seen — the least dependent on others to publish their words… At the same time, of all the species of writer, bloggers are the least insulated from their audience, most vulnerable to the ebb and flow of attention and response. They are both alone and in a crowd. Their solitude can inspire self-indulgent ranting; their sociability can tempt them into self-serving pandering. But every now and then they manage to hold their balance in this paradoxical position for an extended, exhilarating spell.
Any act of public expression, of "putting everything out there" — your political arguments or your creative work or your personal story — is a gamble. We offer something to the world; we cross our fingers that our contributions won't simply be ignored or derided or misappropriated. Sometimes we're surprised at how much we get back, and sometimes we feel used.
Either way, we are going to keep at it. Blogging allows us to think out loud together. Now that we have begun, it's impossible to imagine stopping.