Archive - Apr 18, 2006

Reading list

My horoscope today says, “When's the last time you read a really good book, hmm? Why not email a few friends whose taste you trust and ask for a recommendation or two.” This means that 8% of people reading horoscopes should get the same suggestion, so I’ll provide my recommendations and if people have some recommendations of their own, please add them.

A lot of people have been asking me about blogging, and so I would like to recommend a few books that I think are crucial to being a good blogger. This may not be the typical list you’ll find from other bloggers.

I’ll start off my list with Bruce Sterling’s Zeitgeist. Publisher’s weekly describes it as “Rife with profound ruminations on the ‘master narrative’ of life”. Good blogging needs to be the master narrative.

E.B. White’s One Man’s Meat provides an example of what I think good blogging should be. He talks about daily life on his farm and ties it to the political ‘master narrative’.

There are two important themes to me in the master narrative of blogging are role of ‘online influentials’ and the ‘collapse and revival of American Community’. Blogging folks often talk about the Roper report about influentials online. Yet again, I like to go back to some older books. In 1955, Elihu Katz, Paul Lazarsfeld wrote a book, Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications. This site sums it up with “Essentially what Lazarsfeld discovered is that many voters regard family members and close personal friends, and not the mass media, as major influences in the decision making process”.

Perhaps this ties together nicely with Robert Putnam’s book, Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Over the past forty years, politics has become much more focused on the mass media, and we have seen a decline in political involvement. Blogs can provide a shift in the media where we bring family members and close personal friends back into the political decision making process.

So, read Sterling, White, Katz, Lazarsfeld, and Putnam. Think about how you can use the internet to tell personal stories that reflect on the master narrative of twenty-first century politics. Think about how you can help revive American community through re-engaging family members and close personal friends in the political decision making process. Oh, and let me know what you’re reading.

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