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Weblog as Genre, Weblog as Sociability

Weblog as Genre, Weblog as Sociability

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Weblog as Genre, Weblog as Sociability

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  1. Weblog as Genre, Weblog as Sociability Susan C. Herring Blog Research on Genre Project (BROG) School of Library and Information Science Indiana University, Bloomington

  2. Operational Definitions • Weblog (blog) — a frequently modified web page (and associated pages) containing individual entries typically displayed in reverse chronological sequence • Blogosphere— the universe of blogs available (mostly publicly) on the World Wide Web

  3. Number of Weblogs • 1,794,488 indexed by the NITLE Weblog Census as of 3/29/04 • 1,184,362 (66%) estimated active • Including hosted weblog services brings the estimated total to 4.12 million (Perseus, October 2003), of which 34% are active

  4. Exponential growth of blogs

  5. Weblogs as Genre • Question: What are publicly-available weblogs like? • Approach: Characterize the genre in terms of central tendencies of randomly-selected blogs • Genre (def.) – "a distinctive type of communicative action, characterized by a socially recognized communicative purpose and common aspects of form" (Yates & Orlikowski, 1992) • Status: Part of an ongoing longitudinal study • Two papers available (Herring, Scheidt, Bonus & Wright, 2004; Herring, Kouper, Scheidt, & Wright, fc)

  6. Data Sample • Core blogs (excl. online journal hosting sites and “community blogs”) • Random sampling from blo.gs site • Directory of recently-updated blogs; tracking 1,523,316 blogs as of 3/29/04 • Sources: antville.org, blogger.com, pitas.com, weblogs.com • 203 blogs collected March-May 2003; 154 blogs collected September 2003

  7. Methodology • Genre characteristics • Producers • Purpose • Structure • Content analysis • Coded 44 features in each blog; quantified results

  8. Summary of Findings • Blog producers are roughly equally split between male and female, adult and teen • Adult males create more filters and k-logs • Females and teens create more personal journals • Blog purpose is mostly personal (and often intimate) • Blogs have characteristic structures (e.g., archives and badges) • Most blog entries receive no comments • Most blog entries contain no links

  9. Caveats • Possible sampling bias • Small sample size • English only • Frequencies of comments and links probably under-represent the degree of “conversation” taking place among blogs

  10. Weblogs as Sociability • Question: To what extent is the Blogosphere interconnected? • Approach: Conduct a social network analysis based on patterns of linking identified “from the bottom up,” starting with randomly-selected blogs • Social network (def.) – “A web of interconnected blogs which directly or indirectly interact with or influence the blog author” (adapted from onlineacademy.org/modules/a202/lesson/lesson_5/a202c5_30100.html) • Status: Research in progress

  11. Data Sample • Blogs with links to other blogs in sidebars (“blogrolls”) • Random sampling from blo.gs site • Excluded blog software used for non-blog purposes; blogs in languages we can’t read • Initial analysis based on 4 blogs: • http://pencilinyourhand.blogspot.com/ • http://www.danm.us/blog/ • http://www.mysocalledblog.com/ • http://www.orangetang.org/erica/blogger.html

  12. Methodology • Followed and recorded all links to blogs in sidebars three degrees out from source blogs • Social Network Analysis (cf. Degenne & Forse, 1999) • Network density • Centrality and status • Tie strength • Applied measures to database of URL source-destination pairs (N=6,215)

  13. Summary of Findings • Network density • The Blogosphere is densely interconnected via links in sidebars of blogs (cf. other “small world” phenomena) • Centrality • “A-list” blogs are most consistently linked to • Status • Number of inbound links correlates (negatively) with number of outbound links (more than with “A-list” membership) • Tie strength • non-“A-list” blogs are most reciprocally interlinked (e.g., Catholic blog “clique”) • Most links are non-reciprocal (“weak ties”) • Many blogs do not link to other blogs (isolates)

  14. Caveats • Sample is small; may be biased • Only four sources, three of them filter-type blogs • Links in sidebars probably have other functions besides social interaction • Links in sidebars are not the only way bloggers “converse” • Links in entries • Textual references in entries • Comments

  15. Further Questions • What factors lead to reciprocal linking? • How do “conversations” via interlinking compare to other forms of CMC? • Do reciprocally-linked blogs also converse textually? • What does the Blogosphere look like from the perspective of personal journal type blogs?

  16. Conclusions • Social science research on weblogs can make a useful contribution to understanding; more is needed • A focus on “ordinary” blogs can shed fresh perspectives on the nature of the Blogosphere

  17. The Blog Research on Genre project (BROG) • Personnel • Sabrina Bonus, Susan Herring, Inna Kouper, Lois Ann Scheidt, Michael Tyworth, Peter Welsch, Elijah Wright • Blog • http://www.blogninja.com

  18. Slides from this presentation: http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~herring/ssc.ppt