May 16, 2006

"A popular online magazine written in Weblog format..."

What's the difference between an "online magazine written in Weblog format" and a blog? I couldn't tell you. (My guess is nothing.) But being the kind of person who pays attention to things like that, I appreciated getting a review copy of "Far From the Madding Gerund," which came with a press release that describes the book as "297 of the best posts from Language Log..., a popular online magazine written in Weblog format by professional linguists... Geoffrey Pullum and Mark Liberman." Language Log is one of my favorite ... blogs, and since I already read it, I'm getting another chance to compare books and blogs.

The first chance was in this earlier post, comparing my ex-husband's book-made-from-the-blog ["blook"] to his blog. Richard had said: "It looks good, and I'm pleased that the posts, placed one after another in a nice typeface on good paper, form a unity that makes them still more meaningful: a literary self-portrait in several forms, covering the course of a year." I said:
"A unity that makes them still more meaningful"? So he's asserting that his own blog posts are meaningful? Well, the very act of publishing your writing is an assertion that what you've got to say is meaningful. Or do we bloggers seem to be saying only here it is, for whatever it's worth. I'm not saying it means a damn thing. It's just the latest thing that dribbled out of my head.

Nevertheless, when you blook your blog you're definitely asserting that these posts were meaningful and I'm now making them even more meaningful. So what the hell? Why not say it?
Well, not having ever been married to Pullum or Liberman, I have hope of approaching the blook concept less snarkily this time.

I like blooks! Things are reorganized into categories -- chapters! -- and you get nice big picture of the authors' ideas, but there's still the nicely casual and crisp blog style.

How do they handle the links? They could just make all the links into footnotes, but instead they float the references next to the text and lighten the text phrase that was highlighted in the original blog post.

Anyway, read the blog, and if you like it, get the book. It's fun to have the book version of a blog.

Of course, this makes me wonder if I should do a book version of my blog. It would be an interesting, though perhaps disheartening, exercise to go through the 2+ years of posts and pick out 300 that could be a book. The disheartening aspect of blookmaking is that you would see how many things have passed their sell-by date and how many things are no fun at all without the ability to click over to the link. So the blook can't really represent the blog. But selecting the things that have blook potential could be a rewarding experience.

I already enjoy the process of going over "the odd last few days" on the blog to find the posts to base the podcast on. It actually doesn't hurt at all to endure the one second it takes to reject a post as not sufficiently podcastable. The fun of the podcast is pulling out the stuff that feels like it wants to leap into the other format. (Is it okay to use "like" like that? Pullum says yes on page 326 of "Madding Gerund.")

So, I might do a blook. I blog because I'm interested to see what I blog about. I'd make the blook because I'd be interested to see what's blookable and what order these things tell me they want to be in and what those chapter titles are. What are my categories, really? Isn't it all just "Things that caught Althouse's attention today"? It seems that way, blogging. Blooking, it would have to seem like something else

But enough about me, said the blogger.

Go check out Language Log.

(Of course, you'll have to watch "American Idol" first. Simulblogging to begin presently.)


Ron said...

I have to admit I'm more interested in a blook than a blog. Sometimes the day-to-day is nice, but I'd like a little more than just The Daily Spew as well. Intentions grant meaning.

Hoots said...

If your blog were made into a book it would be better presented as poetry, strings of verbal sequins and prisms. You put more answers in a question than most people pack into a reply. Comes from being a teacher, I guess. You must be great in the classroom.

I just received a book derived from a blog, Glimpse of Iraq by Abu Khaleel. It may not be one of the great books of the century, but I treasure it because of my online connection with the author.

Niche markets, I have read, have become the bedrock of print publishing. Let a student (or small group of students) plow through your archives and come up with something. That would take the time burden of your plate and give you another viewpoint as well.

Just a thought...

Elizabeth said...

I've got nothing to say on the book-blogging issue, but I to thank Ann for the link to Language Log. What a great blog!

jaed said...

For a while last year, some bloggers were referring to their blogs as "online magazines" or "online journals of opinion", in a semi-sarcastic response to FEC signaling that they'd interpret campaign-speech laws as exempting online periodicals, but not blogs, from limits on political speech.

It's possible that "a popular online magazine written in Weblog format" is an attempt (semi-sarcastic or otherwise) to claim the media exemption. Language Log does sometimes post about politics.