Jill Walker Rettberg new edition “Blogging: digital media and society series” can be described as a key book in an emerging field. Blogging has come to be associated as a landmark in the current social cyber studies and even more. Blogging is all about the way today’s popular culture has become an important element in large magnitude changes in how culture is produced. With her book, Jill digs into the deep and broad of blogging to give the reader the real meaning of what is involved in blogging as the evidence and driver of a shift in epochal culture (Rettberg, 2014).
Jill’s capability in ensuring that she reaches out to the right audience and puts the points on blogging across is enhanced by experience. Being a prolific blogger herself, Jill uses her experience as a blogger in pointing out the various issues to her audience. Jill also utilizes examination which is enhanced by use of an expert’s eye of a communications researcher with experience to reveal the historical, psychological, social and political meaning of the blogging initiative. Borrowing from various disciplines, it is evident of her good understanding on the blogging issue and its impact. The other strong point in her writing is the fact that she brings and uses various disciplines such as media studies, marketing, ethnology, literary studies, sociology and journalism into an excellent exploratory framework (Rettberg, 2014).
Jill’s book expands blogging into a wider context of the decline in print culture to the emerging trends. The updated and revised edition provides a good study of the now each and every day phenomenon placing it in a theoretical, contemporary and historical context. The use of the most recent of the researches and developments in the blogging world is taken care of with an analysis of the new tools for visual blogging and micro blogging (Rettberg, 2014).
In the book, Jill discusses the changing trends where in the current times blogs are being integrated into the mainstream social media ecology. This helps to show the reader the direction the blogging element is taking in the formation and continuation of popular culture. Jill notes that the comments and the links from social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have become more important than networks between blogs which was important five years ago. Jill also questions the new trend where there is a shift towards increased corporate control and commercialization of blogs (Rettberg, 2014).
The cultural shift has also seen its share of influence from blogging as Jill illustrates using examples. Jill delves into the analysis of how the current smart phones equipped with cameras together with the social media has led to the shift towards more emphasis on the visual aspects in the blogs with the use of graphics and photographs being in the foreground. Jill puts in a convincing analysis of how blogging together with related genres have come to change the world of communication and media (Rettberg, 2014).
The design of the book is in such a way that each of the chapters is a self-sufficient review of areas in blogging which makes the structure repetitive across the work. The book is more suitable for beginners or anyone with an interest in blogging as Jill puts the chapters in a loose connection to blogging. Though Jill has borrowed from many disciplines to help the reader in understanding the different aspects of blogging, there is some diversion, however when the discussion shifts from blogging as a phenomenon into the related and convergent forms like the social networking sites. There are lengthy discussions of the various sites such as MySpace and Facebook which though put with the right intention in mind, they do not achieve this as there is no clear elaboration to the reader how this relates to the overall topics (Rettberg, 2014).
Walker’s work begins by tackling the question of what a blog is. She starts with an introduction to the history of online text based communication. She then moves on to the development of blogging tools such as Blogger. Walker develops a shred understanding of material aspects in blogging. An interesting section also discusses blogs as genre and medium which is a distinction that is not addressed directly most of the time. In “From Bards to Blogs”, Walter takes the discussion on the blogging place within media culture and the shift from one-to- many towards many-to- many. Walter positions the internet as a counterpoint to Plato’s complaint of a written text being unresponsive. Walker shares the view that there is potential for interactivity between authors of blog posts, the blog post itself and the reader in blog comments (Rettberg, 2014).
Also of particular interest is the chapter “Citizen Journalist?’ where Walker puts her focus on the three ways in which blogging intersects with traditional journalism. There are bloggers acting as journalists, the bloggers who report on mainstream media and the bloggers giving first-hand reports on ongoing events. Walker goes ahead to discuss bloggers as the chance to witness big historical events. Her example of Kaye D. Trammell account on Hurricane Katrina is meant to show how blogs can be used as sources of information by both the public and mass media however understudied. This is an avenue that can be used for future works in blogging (Rettberg, 2014).
Walker also discusses how blogs have expanded to various forms of narratives in “Blogs as narratives” She gives an account of the three forms of narratives namely the goal-oriented narrative, ongoing narration and fragmented narratives. In the same chapter she evaluates the ways in which blogs can be used as a means of self exploration with one discovering their strengths and what they can do best to contribute to the society (Rettberg, 2014).
Walker finishes the book off with a review of the future of blogs and the future of social media. In the chapter, Walker also touches on the use of language, privacy government access and control each of which one gets the feeling that they could be well covered in a different book each on its own. An addition of some scholarly works using quantitative methods would have added some balance to the various discussions such as the one on protypical blog and blogger. Another limitation in Walker’s book is that there is a small number of scholarly works cited on bloggers and blogging (Rettberg, 2014).
In general Walker provides a popular view on blogging culture and blogs and steers away from in-depth analysis and critical discussion. The text however is a good introductory resource for both non-academic and academic audiences (Rettberg, 2014).
Rettberg, J. W. (2014). Blogging.