The Rise of the Blogosphere / Edition 1

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Overview

In 1985 The WELL, a dial-up discussion board, began with the phrase: You own your own words. Though almost everything else about online discussion has changed in the two decades since, those words still describe its central premise, and this basic idea underlies both the power and the popularity of blogging today. Appropriately enough, it also describes American journalism as it existed a century and a half before The WELL was organized, before the concept of popular involvement in the press was nearly swept away on the rising tide of commercial and professional journalism. In this book, which is the first to provide readers with a cultural/historical account of the blog, as well as the first to analyze the different aspects of this growing phenomenon in terms of its past, Aaron Barlow provides lay readers with a thorough history and analysis of a truly democratic technology that is becoming more important to our lives every day.

The current popularity of political blogs can be traced back to currents in American culture apparent even at the time of the Revolution. At that time there was no distinct commercial and professional press; the newspapers, then, provided a much more direct outlet for the voices of the people. In the nineteenth century, as the press became more commercial, it moved away from its direct involvement with politics, taking on an observer stance—removing itself from the people, as well as from politics. In the twentieth century, the press became increasingly professional, removing itself once more from the general populace. Americans, however, still longed to voice their opinions with the freedom that the press had once provided. Today, blogs are providing the means for doing just that.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The growing importance of online political weblogs, collectively known as the blogosphere, has been characterized by many as a fundamentally new development in the American journalistic landscape. But for Barlow, the blogosphere is in many ways a regression back to the early American popular press, which allowed a multiplicity of voices and opinions and helped stimulate democratic debate. Over the years, the commercialization, consolidation, and professionalization of American public journalism provided fewer and fewer venues for popular opinion and for discussion of issues the professional media considered unimportant. It is the promise of blogs to renew the abandoned practice of citizen journalism, and not some magic technological newness, that have led to the rapid explosion of the blogosphere."

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Reference & Research Book News

"[B]arlow here examines blogs--interactive Web journals through which users share information and opinions. His perspective is that of both an academic researcher and longtime blogger. He looks at blogs in the historical context of the American press, the tradition of alternative journalism, and the position of mainstream media, citing blogs as evidence of the increasing power of citizen journalism. He discusses the social, political, and technological contexts that led to the current popularity of blogging. Complete with chapter notes, a selected bibliography, and a thorough index, this accessible book will be of particular value to those interested in contemporary mass communications, journalism, and media studies. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."

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Choice

"[A] surprising probe of cultural forms of expression highly recommended for any serious college-level holding strong in social issues."

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Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275989965
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

AARON BARLOW is Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York. He has been involved with blogs since he subscribed to the WELL in the early 1990s. He continues writing and participating in Web discussions as part of the coordinating group for ePluribus Media, an Internet-based "citizen journalist" group that has grown out of blogs. Praeger published his earlier book, The DVD Revolution: Movies, Culture, and Technology, in 2005.

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