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Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web

edited by Sarah Boxer

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Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web
Several years ago, the word "blog" had started to pop up everywhere I looked, but I just couldn't get my mind around it. "What is this 'blog' of which you speak?" I muttered to myself as I unsuccessfully Googled the word, trying to find the treasure trove of amazing diarists, pundits, and artists I kept hearing about.

Too bad Ultimate Blogs, edited by Sarah Boxer, wasn't available back then. It includes a very helpful appendix called "How to Find Blogs." Nevertheless, I eventually learned to navigate my way through the blogosphere. In fact, I first heard about Ultimate Blogs on one of the blogs I read, I Blame the Patriarchy, which just happens to be included in this excellent edited collection. So I began reading in hopes that I'd find some other gems. I had a few questions about the concept of the book, but Sarah Boxer anticipated them and answered my initial questions in her chatty, likeable introduction to the collection.
"How the heck do you choose which blogs you'll include in your book?" After all, there are more than 80 million blogs in the world, according to the blog tracker website Technorati. This turned out to be a very personal decision-Boxer included blogs she likes, which she found by talking to people she likes and following the advice and blogrolls of blogs she already knew about. Boxer chose blogs that she found "timeless" and "self-contained." Political blogs age too quickly. Other blogs are too "linky"-since there are no links in a printed book, all the good stuff had to appear in the text (or art) of the blog itself.

The blogs in Ultimate Blogs are of all varieties. There are women writers, men writers, photos, cartoons, U.S. government documents, poems, frozen animations, sad people, happy people, funny people, people who use bad words, people who write beautiful descriptions of the world, global concerns, personal concerns, and a lot of the drama and pathos of people out there living their lives. The blogs themselves are truly terrific, just as Boxer tells us in the introduction.
My other question was, "Why would you turn blogs into a book? Isn't that sort of reverse technology?" In fact, there are some really annoying things about reading a book of blogs. One of the reasons I read blogs is to read the comments posted by other readers, which are often angry, defensive, hilarious, poignant, and brilliant. There are no comments in Ultimate Blogs. Also, reading blogs you like is like eating Lemonheads (if you love them as much as I do). You read one entry, think the writer is great, and then voraciously devour entry after entry. In Ultimate Blogs, you're jarred to a stop by the end of the chapter. Of course, you can hop online to keep reading, but that isn't always practical. One great thing Sarah Boxer has done for us, though, is to find out who the bloggers are in the real world (with, she admits, a varying degree of accuracy). It was fun to read their brief bios and see that the people are as interesting and varied as their blogs.
I'm not sure if you'd ever read this book a second time, because you'd just start reading the blogs you liked instead. But you'd certainly pass it on to friends. Ultimate Blogs was a fun read and a great way to get my feet wet in twenty-seven blogs I might never have found otherwise. I can only enthusiastically recommend it. But you can't borrow mine-I've already passed it on.

Editor's Note: For those interested in further exploration, I have listed the twenty-seven blogs chosen by Sarah Boxer for inclusion in Ultimate Blogs below:

Angryblackbitch
Becker-Posner Blog
Click Opera
Cosmic Variance
Diary of Samuel Pepys
El Guapo in DC
Eurotrash
Get Your War On
Go Fug Yourself
How to Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons
I Blame the Patriarchy
In the Middle
Ironic Sans
It's Raining Noodles!
Johnny I Hardly Knew You
Julia {Here Be Hippogriffs}
Language Log
Matthew Yglesias
Micrographica
Midnight in Iraq
Ninapaley.com
Old Hag
Radio.Uruguay
Rootless Cosmopolitan
The Rest is Noise
The Smoking Gun
Under Odysseus
 
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