Weblog conversations revisited: conversations with self
So, in our experiments with extracting weblog conversations we've got one that included 1000+ blog posts from 34 bloggers. Once we included self-linked posts in the analysis, several independent conversations got "glued" together by chains of self-linked posts, turning the whole thing into a mess.
Looking into self-linking was another of my interests to revisit the original research. For me self-linking is one of the indicators that (some) weblogs are written as a conversation with self:
In the simplest case, a weblog post is fully and only embedded into "a conversation with self", a personal narrative used to articulate and to organise one’s own thinking. A single blogger could have several of such conversations simultaneously, returning to ideas over time. Next, each of the posts can trigger a conversation with others that can take several rounds of discussions as well. (Efimova & de Moor, 2005: 9)
Anjo and me have discussed a few possibilities to visualise those conversations with self (at least as far as one could do based on self-linking). One was inspired by Thread Arcs of Bernard Kerr from IBM research (which I actually found referenced in a thesis chapter by Manuel Lima describing precedents of Blogviz).
What Anjo did with it is different, but provides a nice way to visualise some patterns:
The above image is an example of a variant on the Thread Arcs idea. Left to right is time, and the arc that links connected posts is filled with a colour: the darker the colour the shorter the time span of the linked posts.
Another example. Visualisations like this can, at the very least, differentiate between those who use their weblog to create an intricate structure of linked posts over a long period of time, compared to bloggers who hardly refer to their own posts.
The final example depicts Lilia's self-linking practices. I see waves, woods ...
In the visualisations you can see clearly that self-linking is more of a personal habit rather than something that every blogger (in our sample) does consistently. Actually, as you can see from the last image, my own weblog is an extreme example of self-linking; others link to their own posts rarely.
Eventually I want to lok at the reasons for self-linking: Why some people do it and others don't? Is it related to their uses of a weblog to document and organise their thinking? or wanting to inflate google rank? Do people who have easy tools to organise and retrieve their blogs posts (e.g. with categories or tagging) link to themselves less? Is it related to a number of blog posts? to the breadth of topics covered? to some strange personality trait? Does it change over time?
However, those visualisations still help a lot. They indicate that there are probably only several people who (because of chains of their own posts linked to each other) link separate conversations between bloggers into a whole big mess (connectors?). And they help thinking on detangling the mess :)