Weblogs vs. journals
There is an interesting discussion following a post by danah boyd at misbehaving Why are bloggers mostly straight white men? It's more about our biases in thinking about blogging then about anything else: what type of blog do you write? what blogs to you read? how do you find out blogger's identity? what do you call "blog"?
The last question is related to the distinction between weblogs and journals. Below is the selection of quotes by danah (as far as I know who posts behind zephoria nickname :) trying to articulate her views on the issue. Please note that these are pieces from different comments in the discussion (and I had to do a "look at the source" trick to find permalinks :(
[link] First, i came from the journaling community as well. I'm still trying to put a finger on what is so fundamentally different about it because i can definitely feel the differences. One thing is for certain: audience. When i think about bloggers, they want to be visible and they try to get their words out. Journalers are more about recording the daily rhythms, noting what's going on for a local audience. Journaling is more about getting support; blogging is more about conversing around ideas. I do believe that they must be treated separately, even though there's a lot of gray area, simply because the intention, purpose and publicness of their activities are fundamentally different.
[link] One clear separation for me between the blogger/journal communities is the audience - who the writing is intended for. This doesn't mean that journalers don't write about ideas, but those ideas aren't directed at the public, but more towards their friends. This also doesn't mean that there aren't journalers who want the world to pay attention to them; this is the classic behavior of teenagers anyhow (and definitely gets propogated in journaling). But their construction of the public audience is quite different than the non-journaler, as is the expectation that they have from the public audience.
[link] The reason that i'm trying to tease out a distinction amongst digital daily publishers of text is because, regardless of words, there are underlying differences in what people are doing, why they are doing it and who they are doing it for. That said, it's a very huge range and thus there are definitely ideas in more personally directly posts and definitely personal rants in more publishing oriented posts. There's no clear line and the easiest separation that i've found is through the terms journal and blog. This also has to do with identification. Most LJ folks i've ever interviewed talk about writing journals, not blogging. They don't identify with the huge blogging meme. Of course, that's a generalization and there are some who do.
While there are blogs that i read because the ideas are interesting even though i don't know the author, there are very few journals that i read that i don't know the author. The content is often not relevant to me in those cases. I mean, when my friends rant about their jobs, i want to read about it, but not necessarily when the whole world does. There's a relationship difference.
The last piece has two connections to my own research:
1. I'd like to focus on "professional weblogs" in my PhD research, so I have to make a distinction as well (I thought about it for my BlogTalk paper, didn't do it and had to cope with consequences). One of the choices would be between using some kind of objective criteria in defining what a professional weblog is and simply asking participants for self-identification. The discussion above makes it clear that the results will be different.
2. Last paragraph has something to do with my thinking on blog reading in connection with weblog networking.
This post also appears on channel weblog research