Monday, November 27, 2006

Digestable Blogging?

Last Friday, a mysterious package found its way into my pigeon-hole. A welcome surprise, however, when I opened it up and found that it was my free copy of the Blog Digest 2007. Until that point, it had slipped my mind entirely that I'd cheerfully given rights for this post to be included, and possibly the labour of my first born son, too.

Quite apart from the fact that Justin McKeating had the good sense to include an effort from yours truly, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read. And a significant upgrade from Tim Worstall's "2005: Blogged" effort last year, too. Firstly, there are few presentation issues, especially in comparison to Blogged. Sometimes pages contain a little too much blank space, but the quality of the writing more than makes up for it. McKeating clearly has an excellent eye not just for pithy polemicists, but for genuinely high-quality writing, too.

The anthology is all the stronger for being divided by theme, rather than chronology. The danger of the latter approach is that the collection reads more like a journal of the year, where articles are selected for being the best comment on a given issue, rather than being the one of the best articles around. The Blog Digest, therefore, creates room for efforts from the Curious Hamster and Jarndyce, to name just two, that aren't related to any specific events, but provide a better overview (on Iran and reasons for invading Iraq, respectively) on their chosen subjects than no end of broadsheet column inches wasted on the same subject.

And, like all good anthologies, the Digest reads just as well whether you take it from start to finish, or you dip in and out randomly. If it would have any difficulty passing the "Page 69" test, then it comes in the fact that page 69 is the back end of a post, and no commentary at all on the quality of any given article.

McKeating does an excellent job of why the blogosphere has been doing so well in terms of media coverage. It's not because it's new and shiny, it's because it has the quality necessary to be worth reading. And ultimately, that is why the nay-sayers who think that the media has built blogs up only to knock them down later will be proved wrong. What it's done is unleash the beast. No-one can read Dr Crippen without being able to trust him more than Dr Thomas Stuttaford. And once people are aware of the quality that is out there, they will stick with it. And the Blog Digest 2007 is as good a start as any.