Moving to Freedom, .Org(on)

Say Everything’ by Scott Rosenberg

Book Cover: 'Say Everything', by Scott Rosenberg'

One indication of the quality of this book is that I read the entire thing. And not only that, I finished it in about a week. It was engrossing enough that I kept wanting to pick it up to find out what happens next. It helped having a trip in there where I had time away from a computer to invest in some “long form” reading, but still.

Say Everything is a book about blogging: “How blogging began, what it’s becoming, and why it matters.” I’ve been reading (and writing!) blogs for many years and was familiar with some parts of the story. I’ve read some of the people profiled in the book, and I had my own opinions on the significance of the form, but I discovered that as with most things in life, my knowledge was shallow. Rosenberg has done an amazing job of putting it all in context and telling the stories of the people behind blogging and the impact that it has had on and off the Web.

(Speaking of blogs,) I can’t remember how I first found Scott’s Wordyard. Just one of those serendipitous discoveries not uncommon in the blogosphere. I liked his take on things, e.g. this recent short post about Peggy Noonan’s objection to silly Web 2.0 names. Following the progress of his work on a book he said he was writing about blogging, I didn’t know if I’d want to read it, having bought too many nonfiction books that failed to hold my interest. I began to consider trying it out after reading Josh Kornbluth’s enthusiastic comments:

[…] it’s bound to instantly become the definitive account of weblog history. (If you know of my background as a former copyeditor, you will appreciate the level of excitement that it took to elicit that split infinitive in the last sentence.) But Say Everything is way more than that: It’s a also a page-turner about start-ups and falling-aparts (in love and business), the fascinating (and seemingly eternal) tensions between commerce and idealism, the awesome power of our urge to communicate, and the sometimes unbearable pain of being “flamed.”? And many other things — all of them happening to be vitally meaningful to me in my life right now.

[…]

In fact, among its many salutary effects, Say Everything has sparked me to get back to writing this blog — after a too-long hiatus — and not remain paralyzed by my usual (and often crippling) fear of my writing not being good enough, or too revealing, or too un-revealing. By rejoining this remarkable movement of self-revelators, and by just doing my best, I am happy enough making my own tiny, imperfect, incremental contribution to a sprawling history of these times. I don’t have to say everything: there’s a whole blogosphere for that — messy, democratic, running in reverse chronological order, and dodging trolls all the way.

—Josh Kornbluth, Saying Something about Say Everything

Yes! Ditto to all that. It is a real joy to find a book like this one, where I can fall under its spell as I increasingly trust the author to tell a good tale. Rosenberg has a strong yet congenial voice. In Say Everything, as in his blog, he is evenhanded, thoughtful, and insightful. I feel like my brain has been massaged by a master.

And that’s my “review.” I mainly wanted to say, great book, kudos to Scott, and encourage you to check it out. The official Say Everything Site has excerpts and reviews, so you might want to start there.

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