Artefacts of a weblog-mediated relationship: a visualisation
I has been struggling for a while trying to understand how relations develop via weblogs, as well as the role of weblog conversations and all kinds of other 'backchanneling' tools in the process.
One of the problems you have to face whily researching those things is the problem of visualisations: how to make sense of conversations distributed between people, places and times (e.g. how to put in one picture weblog posts, links between them, comments, authors of all those and ideally a timeline as well?).
The picture on the right is another attempt. It comes from the work I did with Andrea on co-constructing a story of our relationship, which involved mapping communication artefacts that were part of the process*. I'd appreciate any feedback regarding (un)clarity of it and suggestions of alternatives...
Things I wanted to include:
- different types of artefacts and their relationships (=links between)
- authorship and space (so it's clear when I write a blog post in my own space linking to Andrea's post or comment to Andrea's blogpost 'there')
Some things that come from the picture (you may also want to check notes at Flickr version of the drawing):
'Direct communication'** with each other is embedded in other blogging activities: weblog posts, directly relevant for our relationship represent only a fraction of posts each of us write during the analyzed period. Although those "other" posts are not directly relevant for the communication, they provide the context for it.
There are moments of delay and long time-spans between initial posting and linking/comment on it.
In the beginning the communication is asymmetrical: it takes time before I explicitly acknowledge that I am aware of Andrea's existence by commenting on her blog posts and linking to her blog. Later there are other signs of asymmetry: Andrea links to me more than vice versa; my comments are less frequent and timely than Andrea's.
What started as a weblog-mediated relationship involves multiple artifacts: my published paper, del.icio.us bookmarks, email conversations and Skype exchanges later on. Different tools are used simultaneously; email and Skype exchanges correspond to intensified blogging.
* The idea of describing and analyzing our own weblog-mediated relationship came into life during one of our first Skype talks. The analysis includes our communication till that date, since the moment when we decided to work on the shared product changed the nature of our relationship and interactions. We also eventually met in person, but this is out of the picture too.
** 'Direct' is a wrong term - when one of us writes a weblog post later answered by another, in most of the cases it's not 'directed', but instead written 'to the world', as weblog as a meduim lends itself to it. In this case 'direct communication' means 'those of our writings that became part of an on-going conversation between us'.