Need examples of great Web essays and great Weblog entries

I’m giving a talk at Wordcamp 2009, May 30 in San Francisco. A portion of the talk is based on a new article that I’ve drafted, “How the Web and the Weblog have changed Writing”. For this article and talk I need examples of great 20-30 page essays that are published on the Web but not in print. I also need examples of 1-4 paragraph Weblog postings that show the power of the medium. I could illustrate the article exclusively with my owns writings, but upon a careful review of everything that I’ve written in the last 16 years it seems that I haven’t written anything great.

Suggestions would be welcome either via email to or in the comments section below.

26 thoughts on “Need examples of great Web essays and great Weblog entries

  1. Brian: Thanks for the links. It would be better, though, if he HADN’T published a book. The ideal essay is something that either is unsuitable for a collection or hasn’t been collected. I’d also like to find things that are a bit more literary and less “how-to”.

  2. This is a job for Ask Metafilter. If you don’t already have an account, it would be $5 to register but it’s totally worth it. I can ask for you if you’d prefer. Just ping me on email with the text you’d want me to post.

  3. Since your essay mentions (hypothetical) diet books, John Walker’s Hacker’s Diet comes to mind. His web site is full of other essays of various lengths, some book length.

    Marshall Brain has published works like Robotic Nation and God is Imgainary on-line only. These would easily be book length on paper.

    On-line comics are surpassing their newspaper brethren in popularity.. Many started on line. Penny Arcade, xkcd, many others. Some of these eventually sell books to help monetize their books, but they find their original audience on-line.

  4. Oh, and for your article, another examples of short-form collections is Pascal’s “Pensées” (Thoughts), many of which end up in dictionaries of quotes. Many Chinese literary classics like the Analects of Confucius or Sun Tzu’s Art of War fit the bill.

  5. Thanks, folks. Keep the suggestions coming! Especially if the essays are non-technical (there will be enough programmers at the conference!).

  6. Oh come on, you know you want to just hit the print button while browsing your blog archives!

    You might consider the strobist blog:
    You might contrast it with posts and its mission. The difference in evolution because of the available technology at inception is interesting.
    Disclaimer: I grew up on I love it, both for its technical and social pioneering spirit and useful photography content, but strobist seems to have more draw for me now.

    At strobist there is one regular guy educating thousands using existing free tools such as flickr and blogger. He doesn’t pay for bandwidth or storage but educates legions of semi-pro photogs with everything from basic technique to coveted ‘tricks of the trade’. He teaches technique and tactics and explains trade secrets to the disdain of some pro photogs that believe these should be closely guarded secrets so the are still ahead of the amateurs. The thing is, he inspires photowalks around the world, gives assignments, and unwittingly became such a strong personal brand that local photo stores have started selling ‘strobist kits’ to semi pros. This seems like perhaps it would be a good fit, but perhaps 1-4 paragraphs simply isn’t enough to illustrate the concept.

  7. +1 for Paul Graham.

    Also Joel of “Joel on Software” has good essays, though on tech topics.

  8. Joel deserves to be better known, he does not post about tech only. I think this one is his best post ever:

    Fog Creek Software Management Training Program

    In a few paragraphs, lots of very valuable insights about management, training, leadership, knowledge, motivation, problem solving, higher education, and the importance of real-world experience.

  9. John Lucas (the philosopher harshly attacked in Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach for concluding, from Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, that machine intelligence will never match human intelligence) publishes his work online now, saying “I would rather be read than be rich.”


    I guess this is an open question how one thinks about Bernstein, but his writings about security are eye openers….

    Another great page is IMHO

    It’s often about things which disturbs us today, but seem to have often a sound base.

    A very questionable language, but still very valid points can be found at:

    Another area in which you can find pearls is the blog of liberals. But I guess it’s a matter of taste….

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