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Jan Schmidt on blogging practices

If you are in weblog research make sure you email Jan Schmidt for the draft paper on blogging practices (hmm, if everyone would ask Jan he will be left without qualified blind reviewers for the journal publication he is thinking about):

Abstract. The diffusion of weblogs over the last years has led to a differentiation of blogging practices. This paper proposes a general analytical model to analyse and compare different uses of the weblog format. Its main argument is that individual usage episodes are framed by three structural dimensions of rules, relations and code, which in turn are constantly (re)produced in social action. As a result, “communities of blogging practices” emerge, that is groups of people who share certain routines and expectations about the use of Weblogs as a software tool for information-, identity- and relationship management. To illustrate these conceptual ideas, findings from a large-scale survey (N=5.246) of the german-speaking blogosphere are presented, focussing on sociodemographic characteristics and motivations of active bloggers as well as on strategies of presenting oneself, dealing with social relationships and using the blogosphere as a source of information. These are found to be partly dependent on bloggers’ age, partly on the experience with the Weblog format. In general, the majority of bloggers uses them to journal episodes and events of their private life, while keeping contact with other readers and authors through comments and (to a lesser extent) a blogroll.

I really like the paper, but I’d say that it’s really two-in-one: the first is probably the best theorising work on weblogs I’ve seen so far, the second has a very interesting results complementing other blog studies.

The main reason I see it as two papers: I don’t see how the survey illustrates the model. I find the strength of Jan’t model in articulating dynamic relations between different aspects of blogging practices, as well as connections between micro-level “specific blogging episodes” and forming of macro-level rules and relations – I do not see how those things are illustrated by the survey (Jan, may be I miss what is there – then it should be more articulate).

Interesting finding (see also highlights by Philipp Young): choices of what to blog about differ by age (teenage and older bloggers), while use of comments, blogrolls and RSS differ by the time spent blogging (less than 6 months/more than 6 months). The second one suggests the change of blogging practices over time (corresponds to similar finding in my BlogTalk paper (.pdf), other studies and subjective feelings).

I’m not sure how far one-to-one generalisations of specific blogging practices (e.g. contents or weblog posts) into broader categories (information, identity and relationship management) would hold. For example, if we talk about identity management: (IMHO) in the blogosphere your identity is formed as much by linking to others as by the contents of your weblog. This comes back to the whole discussion on artefacts and practices (e.g. archaeology and ethnography in weblog research, but I should write about it properly).

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/04/12.html#a1762; comments are here.

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