Updated: 6/23/2005; 11:51:22 AM.


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  Thursday, May 01, 2003

  Beyond 'blogs = easy webpublishing'

Jon Lebkowsky [via Matt Mover]

Some of us are seeing weblogs as an early step in the evolution of the web (or, some say, a revolution in the way the web is used), and the general label for the stuff we're talking about is "social software." Social software supports group forming, an activity that wasn't necessarily in the heads of the folks who created the first blog systems as simple content management, emphasizing individual publication. Blogs are evolving, though, as nodes in social networks, and bloggers are drawn to group-forming activities and software developments that emphasize the connections as well as the nodes. It's possible to see blogs as a bunch of discrete publications that order random posts in reverse chronological order, but you get away from that pretty quickly when you get into the space and see what people are actually doing with their weblogs.

Synchronicity. Consistent with the results of blogging motivation and added value.

  BlogTalk paper: weblogging tools

Set of questions/asnwers about weblogging tools.

Question 3. Weblogging tools

Responses to the Question 14. What do you like about the weblogging tools <you use>?

  • Easy (install, use), comprehensive, clear
  • Easy customisation, templates
  • Editing (easy formatting, drafts, off-line editing)
  • Connectivity (RSS, Referrers integrated, pinging weblogs.com, trackback, comments, discussion tools, Friends in LJ, e-mail notification)
  • Integration (Combination of RSS/news aggregator/blogging in one, one step posting, many functions are embedded, works as CMS)
  • Web-based, accessible from any place
  • Opportunities to expand, large and open developer community
  • Free
  • Routing content into categories, liveTopics
  • Database/ doesn't need a database
  • Storage (hosting included, light weight)
  • Improves other things (save time, takes away hard work and allows concentration on writing, motivates learning)

Would be bloggers

  • Most of would be bloggers are not sure because of lack of experiences, some believe that blogging tools are easy to use.
  • Other suggestions:
  • Use of metadata
  • Ability to strip-off graphics when reading via RSS reader

Responses to the Question 13. Have you encountered /Do you expect any problems with weblogging tools? If, so what are they?

  • Those characteristics that mentioned by both bloggers and would be bloggers are marked with *
  • Lack of support (bad documentation, instructions are not suitable for non-tech user, difficulties in reaching tech support)*
  • Customisation is difficult (including: not suitable for educational purposes, "things I want to do are beyond the scope of the tools", templates/HTML problems)
  • Lack of reliability (bugs and problems with fixing them, server problems)
  • Lack of control over data (poor support for exporting, backups are difficult/impossible, archives do not work)
  • Usability&complexity (tool is not obvious, too complicated for normal users, difficult to set up and maintain)
  • Formatting problems (difficult to format, lack of power editing features, need MS Word integration)*
  • Lack of specific features (no TrackBack, no RSS, no access from different computers, lack of deep media object suport)
  • Other (slow, requires MSQL which is costly)
  • Problems are opportunities for learning *

Only would be bloggers

  • Blogging would require technical expertise (or at least some knowledge about them) and/or time to learn
  • Hosting-related issues (good communication with ISP, owning private server, firewall problems)
  • Finding tools
  • Speculation around and lack of stability of tools ("everybody and their scripting languages seems to have a blogging tool or twelve")

My conclusions in brief:

  • Half of would be bloggers don't know or not planning using RSS feeds and news aggregators.
  • Blogging tools are easy.
  • Blogging tools are not easy for everyone, especially when it comes to customisation. As one of the respondents says, "Drama! There is a lot of drama surrounding blogging" :)
  • "Would be bloggers" are not aware of many technical problems, but it seems that their expectation that technical expertise is required are right.
  • The results of questions 13 and 14 are controversial, so I'll try to relate the answers to the level of technical skills of respondents.

  BlogTalk paper: motivation

I guess Sylvie is right and I need some frequences next to the answer to make it more clear. I'll add them later, to the full paper version.

Please, note that these are not the responses (you can find them by following the link), but categories I use to group them.

Responses to the Question 10. Why did you start your weblog? What motivated you?

Those characteristics that mentioned by both bloggers and would be bloggers are marked with *

  • Curiosity, interest in experimentation*
  • Examples of other people/ other weblogs, encouragement from other bloggers*
  • Improving own thinking and learning (by articulation)*
  • Organising ideas and references (keeping research notes, organising bookmarks, moving knowledge-sharing/ communication activities from other tools to a weblog) *
  • Need for an expression and audience, publishing ideas, bringing ideas to others*
  • Interest in communication and sharing*
  • As add-on to /emerged from a homepage
  • To share life with friends/family (especially being in another city/country), sharing emotions (feeling in love, assault by a stranger)
  • Exploring opportunities for a professional use of weblogs (business, teaching, KM) *
  • Getting hands-on experience in order to understand weblogs (research, software development, business)
  • Demonstrating/promoting weblogs to someone else (clients, national audience)
  • Previous (paper) diary/notetaking experiences
  • War: to show alternatives for news sources
  • Because it's easy

Would be bloggers only

  • Getting connected with people with similar interests
  • Improving own thinking as result of a feedback

Responses to the Question 11. [Bloggers only] What other added values of blogging did you discovers after starting it (if any)?

Regular bloggers

  • Finding identity, gaining exposure and credibility in the field
  • Improving knowledge and skills: related to technologies, writing, discipline and being organised, ability to pose questions, ability to distinguish between public and private
  • Serendipity, feedback and dialogue contributing to idea evaluation and development
  • Networking and building relations, finding people with similar interest, finding friends, finding a community
  • Conversations and knowledge sharing
  • Audience and exposure, easy/cheap/fast way to promote/push ideas
  • Fun, joy, addiction
  • Depth
  • Time saving

People, trying out a weblog

  • Other webloggers as a great source
  • Easy of publishing
  • News aggregator as a tool to access other weblogs
  • Following up students
  • "the rather poor reciprocity, the endless circularity and rehashing/repetition, the low level of dialog"

My conclusions in brief

Blogging is still about early adopters (I perceive "curiosity and experimentation" as a motivation to start a weblog as a sign of an early adopter).

Many important values of blogging emerge only after starting it. Especially those related to the dialogue and building relations with others. Is "blogging = easy webpublishing" slogan a good way to promote weblogs?

  BlogTalk paper: job characteristics that support blogging

Responses to the Question 6. Which characteristics of your job (would) support blogging?  

Analysing respondents replies to this question I distinguished between characteristics of the job that motivate blogging and conditions that make it possible. Those characteristics that mentioned by both bloggers and would be bloggers are marked with *

Job characteristics motivators for blogging:

  • Reading *
  • Making notes, writing *
  • Trends watching, collecting information and ideas, need for aggregating ideas from many sources
  • Need for a collaboration, sharing or feedback (especially if there are no other specialists in the area) *
  • Publication, need for an expose, "selling ideas" * Studying or using technology in general or weblogs in particular for learning, collaboration or knowledge sharing is part of the job *
  • IT/internet job: development, research or management *
  • None 10 responses
  • All/everything 4 responses
  • Don't know - 1 response

Job characteristics - conditions that make blogging possible 

  • Working in front of the computer/on-line * 
  • Freedom to communicate 
  • Time (as there is no job) 
  • Storage space 
  • Writing practice 
  • Software understanding

Is my grouping clear? Did I miss anything? Do you think that frequencies (number of people mentioned specific characteristic) will help?

More on: BlogTalk paper 

  BlogTalk paper: generalisation

I'm behind the schedule with the BlogTalk paper. Too bad.

I'm working on it and in any case I decided to post those pieces that are more or less ready, so there is an opportunity for an early feedback. Here is the piece I call "Disclaimer", your comments are welcome.

This study was designed as an exploration of factors supporting or inhibiting adoption of weblogs by comparing bloggers and would be bloggers. I wouldn't generalise the results to the whole "blogosphere vs. rest of not bloggers", I rather suggest using them as an inspiration for further research.

Specific problems that wouldn't allow generalisation include:

  • Questionnaire respondents belong to social circles around my weblog, weblogs of my readers and the Knowledge Board web-site.
  • Respondents volunteered for participation themselves.
  • There are three times more "bloggers" than "would be bloggers" (62 vs. 20). 
  • The definition of "would be bloggers" I used: the intent was to study people, who have at least some interest in weblogs, and not all the people without a weblog.

Relevant earlier posts/discussions:

More on: BlogTalk paper 

  Why do I Blog: simple and powerful

Dina Mehta, Why do i Blog - 2:

"The blank page gives us the right to dream." -- Gaston Bachelard

More on: bloggers motivation 

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

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