Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nothing New Under the Sun: The Age of Conversation

Perhaps it's because I approached The Age of Conversation expecting a vaguely academic, insightful collection of essays, but I was very disappointed with this Big-On-the-Internets book. I certainly wasn't expecting Chicken Soup for the Blogger's Soul.

If you're not big on the marketing, communications, or meta-Web 2.0 blog groups, it's possible you may not have heard of this book, which is being hailed as completely revolutionary because it was written by 100 different authors in collaboration. And while some of these authors seem to be intelligent, thoughtful people overall, the one-page essays all read the same way: advising upon the use of or praising the power of blogging while failing to contribute much more to the conversation.

There are phrases that promise insight, but ultimately I think I'd take fewer authors and more actual content. One essay, "About Conversation," by Gianandrea Facchini is composed of 286 words, 96 of which are quotes from famous orators. That's 33% full of thoroughly un-novel content. While this is the exception rather than the rule, it is somewhat contemplative of how I feel the Age of Conversation's content is lacking.

But, to me, the worst aspect is the smarmy tone of some authors' whose essays are laced with silly and occasionally self-congratulatory comments about themselves and their peers. It all reads too much like the back cover of a high school cheerleader's yearbook: sweet, vaguely amusing, but essentially useless.

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