aoir: "broadening the blog panel, part 1"

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The blog panel I was on was so big that it got split into two time slots, and the first one was from 8:30-9:45am. I took notes for that one (no WiFi at that time), but then my computer got pressed into use for projection during my panel (for Jason Nolan and for me), and I didn't really take notes much after that.

So, here are my belated notes from session 1, featuring Cameron Marlow (of Blogdex fame), Alex Halavais, Matthew Rothenberg, and Thomas Burg.

First Panel (8:30am)

Cameron Marlow, before we begain: "This is a giant room and a tiny audience...probably a good metaphor for weblogs.

Where possible, I've provided links to people's presentations (via their blogs), or at least to the blogs themselves.


Alex Halavais led off, talking about Robert E. Park (then groundbreaking) description of cities as more than collections of people, but as an institutions. He speaks with a backdrop of a series of wonderful quotes regarding study of cities (Chicago School, etc). Nice comparisons drawn between cities and blogospheres.

Move from that to "What is a 'blogosphere'? How do we study it?" What's a blog? Blogs only exist in relation to one another.

Goes through Park's essay on cities, replacing "city" with "blogosphere".

Focus on neighborhoods. How do you find the boundaries and the texts of the "neighborhood" in a blog context?


Thomas Burg's presentation

MonsterMedia: the monstrosities of the blogosphere. He presents a "framework from a cultural studies perspective," using the metaphor of the monster.

monsterTheory: impurity is terrifying, especially when two categories are represented--(human and machine). A monster is created by transgression of categories, or blending of existing (exclusive) orders. The result is fear and/or fascination.

Is it reasonable to think of a weblogMonster?

Question from audience (Susan Herring, I think): In what sense is linking a disruptive technology in the context of weblogs? A: The linking of content, the "tracking back" of references is a new way of thinking about content on the web, about producing content on the web. Questioner disagrees; new, but not disruptive.

Cam chines in that he sees it as the opposite of disruptive.

Alex responds as well--a link is not interactive. Difference between reciprocal and unidirectional links. Links can flatten hierarchy and thereby disrupt structure.

Matthew points out that weblogs themselves have become disruptive in search processes, and the value of links

Audience member notes that comments and trackbacks allow for disruption.

Another question about need for reputation based filtering, a "qualitative overlay" for the quantitative information.

Question: Why are panel members negative about social network analysis; most software for sna now does recognize bidirectional and unidrectional links. The kind of "maps" we need require multiple valences.

Cam: In EatonWeb, people shunned categories, and isntead chose "personal" and "general". Communities are not around people, but around topics--however, people are not aware of the microcommunities around topics.

[Reading this now, I think this is really important. Need to follow up on this.]

Question: perhaps content is too ephemeral on blogs; are weblogs more like newspapers in their balance of ephemerality (of individual pieces of content) and persistence (of the vehicle for that information)?


Cameron Marlow (blog link--can't find his presentation there)

Likes the metaphor of the city that Alex raises. Evolution of the city produced a new set of social organizations not possible in other environments--to some extent, weblogs further this process. With weblogs, you engage with people who are not geographicall-colocated. Geography of interests and thoughts.

Challenges the idea that "neighborhoods" exist in the "world of weblogs" (hates the term "blogosphere")

Weblogs are about a "culture of ego". The individual is the unit of analysis--as opposed to environment. About creating a community around the individual.

Blogdex indexes ideas/topics spreading through the weblog world. Allows communities to form around shared topics/discussions. Individuals can find others "talking" about the same subjects.

Claims there's not an emergence of weblog neighborhoods. No structure emerges as a "clique". It's simply a mesh of interconnections. It's not like "Small Worlds," or other networks we've seen before.

[My anecdotal experience doesn't support this. I think we need to look at the data in a lot of ways before we assume that there are no emergent "neighborhoods" of blogs. In fact, I'm surprised that nobody mentions Emergence in this seems very relevant.]


Matthew Rothenberg (just started updating his blog again)

Many people maintain their weblogs in multiple formats--not just HTML, but also xml, rdf, etc. Why are webloggers interested in providing this?

Highly distributed methodology--different authors, times, tools, locations. But it's a highly referential community, based heavily on links. How can we make sense of relationships?

May be a "city", but it's one in which your neighbors are not necessarily visible to you. This is where social network theory fails in analysis of weblog links. Need to see who links to the same things you link to. This happens, though, in tools like Blogdex, "Recommended Reading", AllConsuming, feedster, etc)

Difficult to see who's talking about a resource when you're looking at it? Talks about how to build that in automatically (My response: But do we want to do that? Regulating signal-to-noise ratio. Tools like the Technorati Cosmos bookmarklet allows for filtering/value added on that information.)

Claims that blogs are a small, insular community. [My response: I don't buy that. Not one community, and only insular within subgroups (LiveJournal friends, etc) ]

2 TrackBacks

Jason and Liz have blogging their experiences at AOIR, specifically their experiences at several panels on blogging. Liz discusses one panel on "Authors and Consequences," which offered a range of statistical analysis. Perhaps the most important point ... Read More

As promised, more detailed comments on the reports from Liz at AOIR: Alex Halavais gave a paper drawing comparisons between cities and blogospheres, drawing heavily from Robert Park's argument that cities should be studies as "institutions." In the sam... Read More




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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on October 16, 2003 8:39 PM.

aoir: "blogging: authors and consequences" was the previous entry in this blog.

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