Blog networking study: participants and their networks

by Lilia Efimova on 21 November 2008

This post is part of the series describing the results of the study of blogger networking practices. Please take into account a couple of things:

  • This is a draft. Healthy scepticism and comments are very welcome.
  • Statements are linked to the names of people who talked about particular issue, those might be true or not true for others.

***

The participants of the study are professionals in knowledge management or related fields, although they do not necessary explicitly associate with KM. They live in Europe, US and Australia, know English enough to write on professional topics in it (although only occasionally for Martin and Monica). They are established bloggers (2-7 years), some of whom tried blogging with a variety of tools and have an experience with multiple types of weblogs (e.g. KM and parenting blogs for Brett, internal and external for Luis, personal blog in Romanian vs. professional ones in English for Gabriela).

Participant’s weblogs have different degrees of connection to their work. Dave, Shawn and Nancy integrate blogging in web-sites of their companies, while Monica has an experience of blogging anonymously to hide the connection to her employer. All bloggers write about work-related topics; however the degree of explicit connections (including linking) to their work is different.

It is important to note that for most of the study participants (except of Brett) visibility as a results of blogging contributes to their work as entrepreneurs, consultants or researchers. Also four out of ten participants have a connection with IBM – as a current or past employer for Luis, Dave and Shawn and as a research site for Gabriela (I didn’t realise it when selecting people to be interviewed).

All participants talk about their professional networks expanding as a result of blogging. The degree of this expansion is different and seems to have a relation to the size of blogger’s network prior to blogging, the interest of developing new relations, as well as motivations for and the style of blogging. Blogging might change one’s awareness of own network, for example, by helping to discover people previously invisible (Nancy) or by expanding network without blogger’s awareness of it (Monica).

Using Martin‘s terms, blogging networks of the participants could be characterised as both “diverse and not diverse“. From one side the connections that bloggers establish tend to cross topical, geographical, organisational and hierarchical boundaries. From another – there seem to be a shared culture of embracing diversity (Martin), contributing without direct expectation of a gain (Dave, Nancy) and shared interests and professionalism (Ton, Luis). Several bloggers (Luis, Gabriela) also talk explicitly about a sense of community that emerges in those networks.

Those networks (and practices associated with them) change over time. For example, more people starting blogging change not only the numbers of potentially available others to connect to, but also the intensity of connections with them and topics that connect bloggers (Euan). New tools that appear change the ways bloggers connect via their weblogs (Gabriela). Growing uses of weblogs in a business context might change the perceptions of a weblog by its readers and change the connections as a result (Martin, Monica). While for many bloggers connecting with others is a side-effect of blogging, as they reflect on their experiences they might become more intentional with using weblogs as part of their networking (Brett, Euan, Luis).

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