Blog Books
Book Review

Blog On
Todd Stauffer

ISBN 0-07-222712-5
$29.99 US, $44.95 CAN

Essential Blogging
Cory Doctorow et. al.

ISBN 0-596-00388-9
$29.95 US, $46.95 CAN

If you’re unfamiliar with the term blog, blogging or blogged it’s a bit like the word “smurf”, both a verb and a noun. When used as a noun “blog” is short for weblog, when used as a verb “blogging” (in this instance a gerund) is what you do on said weblog. If you need an example of a nifty weblog check out It’s a nicely done blog (I stumbled across when reviewing one of his books) that will give you an idea of what a blog can do for and/or to you. You’ll note that it has some announcements and pics, links to his other sites and a few other things of utility to those interested in Chris Null. If you ever start a personal blog I suggest you avoid some Chris Null’s missteps, namely his Amazon gift list. It seems like a nifty idea for anyone’s personal log and possibly a real headache saver for those who want to give Chris a present (I wonder if his wife looks at the list) but it also illustrates the danger of a personal weblog. Chris’ misstep comes in when the blog reveals too much about himself, you see on his wish list Chris has included a DVD of the god awful Star Wars Episode I (or as I call it Plan Nine From outer Space: Part Duex) while liking a bad movie and pining for a copy of said horrible movie is no crime, one wonders what a film critic is doing yearning for a copy of the most Jar-Jar infested movie of all time.

So now you’ve been introduced to both the dark and light side of blogging and you have decided that you still want to write your own blog. If you know just a smidgen of HTML and a little about free web space then you can do it all yourself. Of course doing the blog old school would kill a lot of time. Fortunately there are tools that can make the process much faster, easier and more fun. If you know what you’re doing you can have a perfectly serviceable blog up in roughly five minutes. How would one do that you wonder? Don’t ask me go and buy either Blog On or Essential Blogging.

Both of these books contain all the technical instruction you’re ever likely to need about anything remotely associated with blogging. Either tome will allow to get a blog going in a flash with no knowledge of HTML or any other technical knowledge (You’ll learn all that stuff later in the books). Both books cover the most popular blogging tools and add ons (blogger, radioland, templates etc.) and both do so in an easily understandable style. So if you were to look at the books from a purely technical standpoint both Blog On and Essential Blogging would be virtually interchangeable.

It’s the extras or lack thereof that distinguish Blog On and Essential Blogging from one another. Essential Blogging is precisely what the title says it is: the essential parts of blogging. Conversely Blog On covers a wider range starting with the most important but probably least asked question: “Do I need a weblog?” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because Essential Blogging is a bit more minimalist than Blog On that it is some way inferior. I enjoy books that stay strictly to the topic at hand and don’t meander about so Essential Blogging’s approach is certainly appreciated. Some of the extras in Blog On seem a little out of place, there are a few pages devoted to grammar tips (know the difference between they’re, there, and their), some ways in which you can use a blog to reach customers and tips like brevity is your friend. These are all fine tips, but tips a lot of people wanting to do a blog could do without.

So which title is better in the end? Blog On is for you if you want a blogging guide that covers more than just the technical aspects of blogging. If, for example, you’re craving grammar tips and hints to keep people coming back then Blog On is going to be much more useful that Essential Blogging. If you’re already a decent writer or if you already know just what you want your blog to be the head straight for Essential Blogging. Essential Blogging’s no nonsense approach is very refreshing to those who are tired of a tangential information slipping into their reference manuals.

Blog: MacMice Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Essential Blogging: MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

Chris Seibold

Leave a Reply