Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blogging for Dummies by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley

Blogging for Dummies by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley is another of the many “Dummies” books and, like the other books in the series, is overflowing with information about blogging. The focus in this text is mostly on building a blogger (or blogspot) blog but many of the tools and ideas are easily used with other blogging sites. (That the book focuses many of its suggestions on blogger is not a surprise because Birley is a developer for the site and anyone who reads the book and complains about this fact didn’t look closely enough at the cover.) This book is more about the business of blogging. This is the resource for you if you want to know: • how to make your blog look pretty • how to drive traffic to your blog • how to track that traffic • how to add “bells and whistles” like vlogs, podcasts, etc. Not everyone wants to do these things, of course, and some people blog for the sake of blogging. For those who are looking for ideas on how to make the content of your blog more interesting, there really isn’t much information here that can or will help. This is meant to be an informational resource and not an inspirational one. There are a lot of books on journaling overflowing with prompts and such that a blogger could use to develop content so perhaps there isn’t much need for this type of information. However, I think that a chapter more devoted to assist a new blogger in developing a style beyond the mere appearance of the page would have been interesting. Finding your personal voice is not an easy thing and it takes practice. I also feel that the authors dropped the ball by not addressing the issues of cyberstalking and cyberbullying. Although filtering comments is touched upon, what to do about someone who is harassing you in other ways, following you from website to website, creating false/fake journals as if they were your own, etc., is not mentioned at all. If this were an older book, I could see why this would be so but there is now enough evidence that anyone and everyone can be a victim of online abuse and to not provide information to the reader on how to deal with these things is a significant oversight. As with most books on anything involving the internet, much of the content will be dated before too long. I recently looked through a magazine that is only ten years old and, when I tried to look at some of the websites featured as “best of the best” all of the sites were gone. The same will probably serve true for many of the sites mentioned in this book. I guess I would recommend this book to anyone who has a blogger/blogspot account who really wants to make it something bigger or better than the basic templates will allow or to the person who thinks of their blog as a business, a way to make money or get some sort of professional exposure. For the person who is wondering how to create a blog that will have lasting power for the reader and for the blogger, this book offers no real suggestions. And for the blogger who is not concerned with writing to an audience, there is little information, outside of the technical template redesign, to be found in the pages of this book. It’s good, as good as any of these Dummies books are, but it is not what I had hoped to read.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for the comment and for visiting my blog.

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  2. Thanks for reviewing the book! It has been a while since I have looked around for reviews and found yours off of GoodReads.

    The 3rd Edition came out recently and I would be interested for your ideas on it. We did address some of the issues that you've talked about and got into more detail about style.

    I especially love your comments about the cyberstalking and cyberbullying. We talked at length on how to address that reality of the web but, unfortunately, it is a topic that could fill a book on its own. So, we were forced to stick to what new bloggers may encounter almost from day one.

    Anyway, thanks again!

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  3. Shane, I'm thrilled (truly) that you found my review even though it wasn't a love love love this book review.

    And yes, the topic of cyberstalking and cyberbullying could fill a book all on its own. I can understand why you didn't choose to address it in your book, given your target audience. Nevertheless, a word of caution to raise awareness for beginners so that they know what they may be opening themselves up to by blogging publicly probably wouldn't take up more than a page or two.

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