Updated: 6/27/2005; 9:38:15 PM.


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  Friday, November 05, 2004

  Cynical perspective on defining weblog communities

Struggling with thinking on finding who belongs to a weblog community for a paper: there is no good way to define weblog community boundaries.

A very cynical perspective - what is included or not in a particular weblog community depends on:

Definition of a community used. There are all kinds of problems here, especially those about distingushing group - community - social network.

Dataset analysed. Including all weblogs in the analysis is almost impossible; in all other cases it's about "where to start from?" and "when to stop?". Selecting weblogs from a specific platform? Those self-selected in a list of "weblogs on X"? Snowballing?

Measures used to identify relations. For example those are likely to give different resutls: community as defined by linking, by common topic, by network of social relations between bloggers...

This post also appears on channel weblog research

  Misleading visualisations, binary thinking and research

Purple America: 2004 elections results by county. By Robert J. Vanderbei (click to get to the source)Just an example: how selecting units and color-coding for visualisation can amplify one perspective. Is the US really a nation polarised as much as it seems?

Compare US election results:

This is a good example of the case where black and white (red and blue ;) lenzes would do more harm than good.

It's interesting why do we slip into binary thinking so easily?

I'm guilty of binary representations myself. It's so strange: even given my beliefs in complexity, continuums and multi-dimentional nature of personal knowledge management I often slip into binary mode in my texts, making my own arguments vulnerable and stirring polarisation.

It seems that thinking in binary/linear/tree structures (context) is more natural for our brains than embracing complexity, so we need some conscious effort for getting beyond simplification and polarisation.

Lois Ann Scheidt on this in a context of research:

As human beings it is very common for us to look at new ideas, technology, etc. compare them to their older antecedents and then slot them into a linear continuum between two older examples of similar phenomena. By so doing we position the new idea, technology, etc. as somewhat less then the exemplars that anchor the continuum.


In my own research while I am forced to background some discussions with linear models so I echo the point of view found in published literature, I quickly try to move to more dimensional modeling that symbolizes the complexity of the ideas without making the ideas I am expressing overly complex and difficult for some of my audience to grasp.

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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