The Pink Book

I’ll be teaching Blogging for Business this summer for the University of Wyoming Enrichment Program. I figured that while I know the software pretty well, perhaps a little more info on blogging might be of use, so I went to the bookstore to see what I could find.

The only blogging book they had was pink. I opened it to see if it had anything of use in it. The page I opened to actually had a useful tidbit of information on it, so I assumed from that page, and from the promises of real information on the back cover, that the book would be useful… Ah, the danger of assumptions based on first impressions!

I got the book home, and read the first fluffy chapter. Lots of girlfriend chatter, lots of giggling and an assumption that I needed a great deal of hand holding. The first chapter basically said that blogging was big, that it was fun, and that I’d learn a lot. It took about 5 pages to say that, with cutesy and distracting infoboxes scattered across the pages. They then presented me with a recipe for cocktails lest the information had been too stressful, and in case I just really needed to wind down after absorbing that critical knowledge.

The next chapter was no better – I had to really WORK to get useful information out of the giggly text, it felt more like talking to a 1980s LA Airhead, who knew something, but couldn’t quite pinpoint how to communicate it – instead of too many “y’know”s, it was peppered with more verbose inanities. The recipe at the end of the second chapter wasn’t any help either.

By the time I got to the end of the book, I was still wondering when I’d get to the helpful part. I’d learned how to open an account in about 6 different blogging platforms, that I COULD choose other options for blogging (but not how), and I’d learned how to keep my typing fingers baby soft, where to find good lip balm, what the hottest gossip blogs were (c’mon girls, I have a LIFE!), how to make several different kinds of alcoholic drinks, how to model a blog after RuPaul’s blog (I’m a REAL woman, folks!), how to throw a really good block party (including tips on getting good decorations), and I’d been warned multiple times that if I danced unclothed on the table at a party, or photocopied my bare body parts on the office copier, and posted photos on the internet that it might affect my reputation with prospective employers (I found their assumption that their readers would be that kind of people incomprehensible). They also had the attitude that one night stands, getting naked in public, or taking photos of either was fine, that making a good drinking blog was a cool thing, but they sternly warned me that I could get the wrong kind of weight loss pill ads on a blog if I used context ads.

Where there should have been realistic warnings, there were only ridiculous scenarios that bore so little relation to real life, that no one would even connect it to the things they really NEEDED to be warned against.

Each area that ought to have had genuine information gave a token nod in that direction, and then swept on past in a gaggle of idle chatter and empty fluff. The book was 2/3 filler, and 1/3 information, and the information was incomplete, vague, and only really good if someone just needed someone to say, “I know blogging is this scary thing that is such a huge commitment that you need me to hold your hand while you click the “Signup” button to get your new account.” Where there should have been a list of a dozen things, there were three. Where there should have been genuine help, there was just common knowledge passed off as a helpful tip. Anyone who has been in the blogging community for a week would not need the book, and anyone who is starting a blog would read this one and wonder what they do after they click the signup button.

It was so much work to actually garner any helpful info from the book, that by the time I finished I was really fatigued. It made me tired just trying to string together the scattered bits. They could have taught the same stuff in about 30 pages, and STILL had room for jokes. David Pogue sets an admirable example.

I’m not the only person who disliked this book. There are three negative reviews of it on Amazon, and they pretty much thought the same thing I did. There are a number of good ones also, mostly fluffy. Most people who dislike a book WON’T give it a negative review. They’ll just toss it, or resell it. There are a lot of copies of it for sale used on Amazon also.

Was the book a waste of money? I did learn about three things that I really wanted to learn, though none of them were covered in enough depth to have had any relevancy or usefulness to someone who had less background on how to apply them than what I have. It certainly was not worth $25. But I also got a great story out of it. When I related the story of the pink book to one of my classes, the students had a really good time of it. It is good for a few laughs, and may be for years to come.

But I also learned something about human nature. When we make the move from doer, to teacher, we sometimes doubt our ability to teach everything we need to teach. We feel that we need more knowledge before we can be the instructor. And often times, we don’t. And we don’t learn that until we go looking for the knowledge, and realize that we have more than many of the others do who are teaching. Self esteem is funny that way.

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