I has been struggling for a while to figure out how comes that ‘individualistic’ weblogs support community formation. Paul Hodkinson provides an elegant answer to my question in his chapter on LJ goths in Uses of blogs:
Wellman and Gulia have distinguished between superficial “weak ties,” which are confined to a narrow shared interest and take place within a single domain, and “strong ties,” which involve extensive familiarity and are played out in a variety of domains. Through enabling individual goths to read about and comment upon a variety of aspects of one another’s individual, everyday lives, rather than just those aspects directly related to the goth scene, online journals played an important part in the development of strong, intimate relationships between them, which nearly always extended to other forms of interpersonal communication, whether email, online chat, mobile phone, or, most importantly, face-to-face interaction. In turn, the development and/or reinforcement of such strong, multiplex ties between goths served to reinforce participants’ general sense of investment in and attachment to the goth scene as a community. (pp.191-192)
Other interesting things in the chapter: moving from group spaces to weblogs, descriptions of online/offline dynamic around goth events, blogs as a way to reinforce culture. It’s about goths, but lots of things apply to other blogging subcultures (KM blogging, for example 🙂
Hodkinson, P. (2006). Subcultural Blogging? Online Journals and Group Involvement among UK Goths, in A.Bruns & J. Jacobs (Eds.), Uses of blogs, pp. 187-197. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Wellman, B. and M. Gulia (1999) `Virtual Communities as Communities: Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone’, in M. Smith and P. Kollock (Eds.), Communities in Cyberspace, pp. 163—90. London: Routledge.
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