A book or a blog – and what then?


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This week as I was subscribing to my 100th or so blog about personal development, I started to wonder how the power relations between blogs and books will go, and why the sometimes equally good information blogs provide seems like a quick snack to books.

Will you or me recommend a good post we have once seen in some blog, after the post is older than a week, older than a month, a year? I think not. And the funny thing in this is, where does the knowledge of these great posts fade after a while?

But, when you’ve read a good book, you probably recommend it to your friend. And it may be that the book has been written in the 90’s. Maybe in the 1890’s, and the content is still valid.

I started to wonder this issue about time and could it be, that blogs and the internet with its rapid motion could affect to books too?

I’m currently reading an interesting book about leadership by John P. Kotter and when I told about it to my friend, also interested about marketing etc., and mentioned that the book is from the 90’s [1990’s that is], he kind of snorted and said ‘Well, there still may be some good information in that’, like implying the knowledge was old.

It’s true that information and theories may get old, but still books by Plato or Toqueville or any other historical writer have thousands of things to say to us. The real knowledge in those won’t get old. People who are even implying something like this should realize that it’s all about applying the writer’s message to the current time.

The basics, the core, of a human being hasn’t changed, at least not that much. And to think, that people who lived in the 1700’s or 1200’s would be somehow more stupid than us, is false belief.

But to the subject again. I don’t know what will become of the blogs. Most likely blogs like this, if I stop writing it, will eventually fade away, drown underneath the information flood and nobody reads them in the following years.

What I’ve watched from the stats, almost no one is interested about posts older than 2 posts back, unless I’ve made a reference to them somewhere, either in my own post or someone else’s blog.

This was so clearly the case when I commented a post in Jari Parantainen’s Sissimarkkinointi blog [only in Finnish, sorry]. My post about using personals blogs as a marketing tool for companies, suddenly got a large boost and have been the most read post ever since.

This fading of older posts is sad in a way, and I see that this kind of behavior is the case with myself too. I rarely read post archives, but I read books written a long long ago. Why is that and why it seems that the old posts lost their meaning, or are not ‘interesting’ anymore in the long run?

Of course there’s the thing that in books the subject at hand is often processed more thoroughly and longer than in blogs, and maybe the writer has more credibility as her book has been published by a publishing company and he’s not just another self made philosopher.

This is often a problem for me when reading those ‘personal development’ blogs. I feel they can offer comfort and cheering up, but often they are written by a layman and you’ll never know how much the blogger has really processed the things he or she writes about or if they are just repeating what others have said.

In this kind of thinking, ‘is one a reliable writer or not?’ or ‘who really has something relevant to say and who doesn’t?’, may also be changing: writers aren’t ‘writers’, they are normal human beings and thus saying a blogger is somehow more unreliable than a real writer with published paper book is from the old times. Now everyone can have a voice, anyone can be a thinker in the web, if they choose to. Of course sensorship can sometimes still be a problem, even in the Web.

This makes you think that could it just be that ‘blogging’ is the new ‘writing’ in some form and a ‘blogger’ is the new ‘writer’?

But sometimes it just feels that reading a blog is like eating a snack, and when you want to enjoy a long lovely meal: you’ll read a book. The snack can be really good, but they don’t fill you completely; you need something more sturdy.

I wonder where this is going to lead, when in some time in the future all the generations have been born in to the internet age where Information is just waiting for your attention on your browser, most likely from your mobile device that is always with you; but the information is short, compressed and fast to internalize.

It seems that this ended to be a very long post – most likely the form is too long for a blog post, but what the heck, I do it for myself in the first place.

This matter is such a huge philosophical whale that I don’t believe I can totally comprehend it or most certainly can’t make any end statements of it. I can only make those obscure reasonings and hide my small capability of understanding behind it all.


4 thoughts on “A book or a blog – and what then?

  1. Impossible to see the future is.

    I want to believe that great bloggers should eventually become writers. Using their old posts and comments they’ve gathered as a material for better digested writing. Knowledge as you said it, not a publication of blog posts word-by-word. Thus making the blog kind of a open process that leads to a book.

    Another point to your list is that blogs are free and books aren’t, even if it’s the walk to a library. Reading is free but comments and marketing value for blogger are free as well. If blogger publishes a steady line of great posts and then tells her readers to buy a book. How big percentage would follow that Amazon link and order one even if they can read the posts online?

    Thank god for Google Reader Starred/Shared items and delicious bookmarking (where this post will end after ending this comment).

    • Thanks for your comment Mika and nice that you liked it and contributed to the sturdy subject!

      Your comment is probably more coherent than my post. But as I said, things happening in the web include really large issues, maybe some even compared to how Gutenberg and his contemporaries affected on availability of books and thus reading. That was a big change.

      I have thought about this using one’s old posts and compiling a book from them. That is most likely already happening. And that way you can really have help from the opinions and comments of others. If people are contributing that is.

      Like you said; blogs are great in the way that bloggers can get almost instant comments about their writings. In the best situation this can turn into a real dialogue and can gather people, unknow to each other, to really think and ponder things. And of course it’s more easier in a blog to challenge writers [i.e. bloggers] or ask them what they really meant with something; a thing that you can’t do with a book that well.

      I like the term “open processing”. Nothing is then really carved in to the stone and many great things could occur from this ‘not untying the knot’ and when people are throwing away their roles as readers and writers, and anyone can be a thinker and share what they have to say. Oh god, I’m such an idealist after all…

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