The title of the book is Net, Blogs and Rock'n'Roll, but the amount of coverage of blogs per se will be relatively small. I use 'blogs' to stand for the more general growth of user-generated content (including wikis, forums, photo-sharing etc) and its cultural implications.
These implications in turn affect the circulation of word-of-mouth recommendations, the development of 'buzz', and thus some of the ways in which people discover new music, films or other entertainment.
User-generated content is also an ugly term, but I think it's useful and important to be as clear as possible about what I mean by the culture of blogging/user-generated content. Here are my suggestions for some defining characteristics. So for 'blogs', please read:
- a form of mass participation in media — anyone on the internet can contribute;
- a conversation not a lecture or a broadcast — there is no 'final word';
- no commissioners, no editors, self-published, any-to-any instead of one-to-many — no infrastructure of control;
- mostly a non-commercial activity (corporate blogs and mainstream media blogs exist, but are not what the culture of blogging is really about*);
- a gift economy, rewarded by recognition and 'in-kind' returns — "everyone writes and no one pays" as Donald Clark says of Wikipedia;
- a focus on the individual, authentic voice (so, arguably, political blogs are what the culture of blogging is about, if you assume the politicians really believe what they say);
- a part of wider activity of personal networking, finding like-minded souls, and building communities of interest.
In the spirit of "no final word", please post a comment if you'd like to add, subtract or change anything on this list.
* Is a blog that has the thinly-veiled purpose of promoting a book 'not what the culture of blogging is really about'? I thought I'd better get that one in, before someone else did.