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Pepysdiary makes the cut in 'Ultimate Blogs' -- Congrats, Phil!

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  • Terry Foreman
    BLOGS A Book of Blogs? Ultimate Blogs promises to present 27 masterworks from the blogosphere in book form. LOL! By Brian Braiker | Newsweek Web Exclusive
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2008
      A Book of Blogs?

      'Ultimate Blogs' promises to present 27 'masterworks' from the blogosphere
      in book form. LOL!

      By Brian Braiker | Newsweek Web Exclusive
      Updated: 12:43 p.m. ET Feb 15, 2008

      What to make of "Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks From the Wild Web"? The new
      book, edited by Sarah Boxer, the New York Times's first (now former) "Web
      critic," endeavors to compile an anthology of the best posts from the best
      Web logs. "W," you might ask, "TF?" To what end this dead-tree blogroll? Is
      this a sincere attempt to explain the blogging phenomenon-which some
      estimate is, in its current form, more than 15 years old to off-the-grid
      grandmas across America? Or is this compilation a cynical ploy to cash in
      on free content?

      Boxer seems sincere in her quixotic quest to find a handful of blogs that
      she says she loves for "the writing, the thinking, the drawing and the
      photos." In her introduction she assures us that in her book "everything is
      bloggy to the core." Meaning ... what, exactly? As of December 2007 the
      blog search engine Technorati was tracking 112 million blogs. How to
      distill that huge number to a few essential characteristics? Well, blogs
      tend to include outbound links to other sites, commentary on funkiness
      found in the news and Web flotsam, comments from readers and responses to
      those comments by blog authors. They are timely and interactive, and they
      couldn't exist offline.

      So why put them in a book and strip them of the very things that make them
      "bloggy"? Here you'll find excerpts from 27 online journals-comprising
      punditry, poetry, ranting, raving and drawing of both pictures and
      conclusions. You'll also find some wonderful writing; you'll laugh, cry and
      scratch your head. But you won't find links, reader comments or any sort of
      dialogue. Boxer, to her credit, is well aware of the pickle she's put
      herself into. "The bloggers in this anthology are, for the most part, out
      of the fray," she writes in the introduction. "They write more than they
      link, and they're read more than they are linked to." So basically she's
      chosen to put into a book entries from the blogs that are ... least like
      blogs. Or, at least, most like books.

      Take the most striking example. In "Ultimate Blogs" you'll find excerpts
      from the Diary of Samuel Pepys, a 17th-century English naval administrator
      and member of Parliament. Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, a Web designer and
      programmer named Phil Gyford began serializing Pepys's diary online as a
      blog. The result is a fascinating experiment and a wickedly fun read. But
      why include it here? The Pepys (pronounced peeps) diary was originally
      published as a book. Yes, it was neat to see how it translated to the Web.
      But now, for reasons that are never explained, here we have it in book form
      again. Dizzy yet?


      Terry Foreman
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