Dan's Metablog
Writing about blogging, identity, and narrative

The Best of Blood   Thursday, October 27   12:36 AM

Read two of Rebecca Blood's better articles tonight: Weblogs: A History and Perspective and How Blogging Software Reshaped the Online Community.

"Weblogs: A History and Perspective" is obviously a bit more general, but even here we see a major theme in Blood, the shift in the nature of blogging after Blogger hit the market:

While weblogs had always included a mix of links, commentary, and personal notes, in the post-Blogger explosion increasing numbers of weblogs eschewed this focus on the web-at-large in favor of a sort of short-form journal. These blogs, often updated several times a day, were instead a record of the blogger's thoughts: something noticed on the way to work, notes about the weekend, a quick reflection on some subject or another.

Put even more briefly:

It is this free-form interface combined with absolute ease of use which has, in my opinion, done more to impel the shift from the filter-style weblog to journal-style blog than any other factor. And there has been a shift.

Blood describes the post-Blogger blogger:

Lacking a focus on the outside world, the blogger is compelled to share his world with whomever is reading. He may engage other bloggers in conversation about the interests they share. He may reflect on a book he is reading, or the behavior of someone on the bus. He might describe a flower that he saw growing between the cracks of a sidewalk on his way to work. Or he may simply jot notes about his life: what work is like, what he had for dinner, what he thought of a recent movie. These fragments, pieced together over months, can provide an unexpectedly intimate view of what it is to be a particular individual in a particular place at a particular time.

And then, near the end of the essay, she backs up and takes a broad look at the phenomenon:

We are being pummeled by a deluge of data and unless we create time and spaces in which to reflect, we will be left with only our reactions. I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from "audience" to "public" and from "consumer" to "creator." Weblogs are no panacea for the crippling effects of a media-saturated culture, but I believe they are one antidote.

"How Blogging Software Reshaped the Online Community" expands on the notion that the various blogging platforms, especially Blogger, changed the genre:

Blogger really was easy to use. When news stories began defining weblogs as "a website made with Blogger", it quickly became the most widely used blogging tool. And that changed weblogs.

It was an interface decision that did this. Consider Pitas, another early weblog updater, which provided users with two simple form boxes: one for a URL, and one for the writer's remarks. Hitting the "post" button generated a link followed by commentary.

Blogger was simpler still, consisting of a single form box field into which the blogger typed whatever they wanted.

Blood also notes the reactions of veteran bloggers to phenomena like posts without links. And then there are the new innovations that have become essential:

For many, weblogs are unthinkable without comments and the community of readers that comments make visible. Indeed, some have criticized comment-free weblogs as merely an inferior form of broadcast media.

There's no cite on that "some," which is a shame because I'd like to know who if anyone made such a claim. I had a comment-free weblog for four years.

And here's Blood's nice little summary of the article:

With the wide adoption and innovation of weblog software, the age of the generalists has given way to the age of the amateurs.

Cite for these articles:

Blood, Rebecca. "Weblogs: A History and Perspective." Rebecca's Pocket. 07 September 2000. 27 October 2005. <http://www.rebeccablood.net/

Blood, Rebecca. "Hammer, Nail: How Blogging Software Reshaped the Online Community." Communications of the ACM. 47.12 (December 2004).

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Walker's "weblog"   Wednesday, October 26   12:34 PM

I went back and read the short definition of "weblog" Jill Walker wrote for the Routledge Encyclopedia Of Narrative Theory.

It's pretty good, and I'd recommend it to someone who hasn't heard of weblogs before, but as I noted when reading her "Distributed Narrative" paper, Walker has a tendency to dwell on the ideal weblog, with all its potential, rather than the average weblog. For her, links are essential to blogging.

As Miller observed, "we must ask whether we should define a genre by an ideal or by the mean, by expectation or by experience." She makes a pretty persuasive argument for focusing on what Joe Clark calls A-List bloggers, in many ways the most successful people working in this genre, and if you buy that argument there's no problem with Walker.

But I'm still out on this. Are most bloggers really fighting for those A-List seats? Clark thinks that neophyte bloggers read all the preeminent weblogs — "How could they miss 'em? They lead the "Other blogs" columns on hundreds of other sites" — and tells us a little story:

What the huddled masses yearning to blog their way into superstardom are left with, then, is not merely talking at people, but talking at a perennially minuscule group of people. It's a source of frustration: It shatters the illusions of communication and dialogue, a shadow of which we notice when the A-list blithely blogs and counterblogs itself. The thinking is: "They get to have a semblance of a conversation [however illusory; see above], so why can't we?"

...which I have trouble believing. If you look at the Nussbaum's NYT Magazine article, which strikes me as a fairly competent sketch of high school (i.e. most) blogging culture, you'll see a bunch of kids concerned mainly with their nanoaudiences.

While Miller may be right about the ideal blog in the minds of readers, I think Nussbaum's piece begs the question: what is the ideal blog in the mind of the average blogger? What is he (or more likely, she) trying to accomplish?

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Notes on Miller's "Blogging as Social Action"   1:20 AM

Research seems to have taken precedence over homework again. If feel like my thesis is out there somewhere though, and tonight, reading Miller and Shepherd's fantastic Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog, I think it came a bit closer.

Miller and Shepherd's article, a.k.a. the good genre analysis paper, is another Into the Blogosphere paper. It's a qualitative look at the origin of blogs as well as their features and purpose. A very sweeping article. So many notes.

I'll try to limit myself to a few quotes per section here. The first section is on the kairos of the blog, the cultural conditions surrounding their emergence as a genre that enabled that emergence.

There's the "democratization of celebrity" and the increased amount of information given and taken:

American culture became obsessed with both making celebrities into regular people (as with Clinton) and making regular people into celebrities (as with Lewinsky), a trend that has been called the "democratization of celebrity" (Stark, 2003). This destabilization of public and private has been linked by Clay Calvert to our continual surrender of information: as people relinquish control over increasing amounts of personal information, they expect increasing access to information in return (2000).

The article then expounds on the modern condition of what Calvert calls "mediated voyeurism," which comes to us through the mass media and the Internet:

Calvert notes a number of contemporary social forces that promote mediated voyeurism, and three of them are especially meaningful for our purposes. First, there is the pursuit of "truth" in an increasingly media-saturated world; dissatisfaction with the increasing mediation of journalism leads to an interest in information that seem to provide a less mediated and thus more authentic "reality." Next, there is the desire for excitement, to see others face a "moment of reckoning" in a talk-show confrontation or a "pulse-pounding" amazing home video; in these moments we may vicariously experience challenges that give meaning to life. Last, there is the need for involvement, the desire to be part of the world around us, even though voyeurism by its very nature can provide only the illusion of involvement.

There's a sidenote here on biography as another part of the kairos, which may prove useful:

And in the world of book publishing, the personal memoir, which one reviewer has called "reality literature" (Carvajal, 1997), became a growing trend in the mid-1990s, with 200 titles published in 1995 (Atlas, 1996).

Of course, we often can't have mediated voyeurism without exhibitionism:

Central to exhibitionism is the social psychology of self-disclosure, which serves four purposes, according to Calvert: self-clarification, social validation, relationship development, and social control, and we can see all of these at work in blogs. The two former purposes function intrinsically, providing heightened understanding of self through communicating with others and confirmation that personal beliefs fit with social norms. The latter two function extrinsically, turning personal information into a commodity and manipulating the opinions of others through calculated revelations. Any one, or all, of these functions, may be a factor in an individual's willingness to "overshare" (2000, p. 83).

In summation:

The cultural moment in which the blog appeared is a kairos that has shifted the boundary between the public and the private and the relationship between mediated and unmediated experience.

The next section analyzes the blog as genre:

We discuss these basic features of the blog as genre below in the semiotic terms used by Miller (1984), identifying their generic semantic content, their syntactic or formal features, and their pragmatic value as social action.


Moreover, the reverse chronological organization of the blog provides a "sense of immediacy," according to Blood, a feature that reinforces the impression that the content is true, or real (2000).

The "reality" offered by blogs is thus a thoroughly perspectival reality, anchored in the personality of the blogger. And although this reality it [sic] may seem to be "immediate," (that is, un-mediated), it is, of course, highly mediated.


The reverse chronology and time-stamping of posts create an "expectation of updates." We should also note that the [sic] semantic immediacy noted above is represented formally by the use of the present tense in the dated entries, as in diaries.

There's a really interesting point here apropos of the Perseus Iceberg survey. Something to mull over in choosing my subject:

The Perseus report concludes that these widely read and frequently updated blogs are "the tip of a very deep iceberg" and are not characteristic of the iceberg as a whole.

Thus, we must ask whether we should define a genre by an ideal or by the mean, by expectation or by experience. This question is related to the question of whether we can tell the difference between a successful and a less successful instantiation of a genre. That celebrity bloggers, or what Clark calls "A-list bloggers," are widely read is one way of defining them as successful; another way is that everyone else wants to be like them, and everyone else wants to be noticed by (i.e., blogged by) them [...]

To justify studying the best rather than the average Miller and Shepherd note that:

We might note now that characterization by statistical means represents a linguistic approach to genre, in contrast to a rhetorical approach, which is more interested in expectations, motivations, and terms of success.

Finally we're into the pragmatic section:

Disclosure, however, should not be understood as the simple unveiling of a pre-existent or perdurable self, but rather as a constitutive effort. The self that is "disclosed" is a construction, possibly an experimental one, which takes shape as a particular rhetorical subject-position. In a blog, that construction is an ongoing event, the self being disclosed a continual achievement.

Note also:

[...] self expression serves the intrinsic self-disclosure functions of both self clarification and self validation, enhancing self awareness and confirming already-held beliefs. The blogger is her own audience, her own public, her own beneficiary.

But it's not all intrinsic:

Relationship development and social control are primarily external, directed outward, functions that use self-disclosure to build connections with others or to manipulate their opinions. These second two dimensions of blog disclosure support the second omnipresent theme, community building. Even as they serve to clarify and validate the self, blogs are also intended to be read.

Who's the audience?

[...] most bloggers address what Henning calls "nanoaudiences" (2003) There's a frequently expressed tension between the desire to be noticed by large numbers of readers and the desire to be valued by a few loyal fans [...]

Where's the speaker?

Blood notes that bloggers "position themselves" in the community of bloggers, indicating through their links "the tribe to which they wish to belong" (2000). Both linking and commentary create the hierarchy that structures the social world of blogs, leading to the A-list celebrities and the thousands of others, as well as to multiple complexly linked micro-communities. Clark calls the blogosphere a "culture of upward mobility" based in the desire for recognition and approval (2002).

The section ends with some rhetorical fireworks:

Is what is truly novel in the blog the ability to address simultaneously these dual yet mutually reinforcing purposes, to engage in self-expression in order to build community and to build community in order to cultivate the self? Does the normalization of the subject-positions of the voyeur and the exhibitionist catalyze this new form of rhetorical action?

The essay then moves on to the blog's ancestors. "Blogs have multiple ancestors."

Blogs appeared, and then multiplied exponentially, when technology made it evolutionarily possible to combine features from a set of antecedent genres that in other circumstances might never have produced any common progeny: the diary, the clipping service, the broadside, the anthology, the commonplace book, the ship's log. We might see the blog as a complex rhetorical hybrid (or mongrel), with genetic imprints from all these prior genres.

There's also an important debate about the ultimate privateness of the diary in this section:

Mallon goes further to make the general social-constructionist claim that "Writing-for-self does not exist in any real sense... Ultimately all discourse is intended for an audience other than the self who is doing the writing" (1984, p. 66). Elbow disagrees, maintaining that in several nontrivial senses writing can be "private" and the self can constitute a sufficient audience (1999). Like the diary, the blog is a phenomenon that illustrates this debate, without resolving it.

The last section deals with exigence, which I still haven't looked up:

The blog reveals something about the configuration of the subject in the kairos that we have described a kairos of mediated voyeurism, widely dispersed but relentless celebrity, unsettled boundaries between public and private, and new technology that disseminates these challenges beyond capital and corporations to individuals. The blogging subject engages in self-disclosure, and as we noted earlier the blog works to bind together in a recognizable rhetorical form the four functions of self-disclosure: self-clarification, social validation, relationship development, and social control. Combined with its focused and repeated effort, the blog's public disclosure — its exhibitionism — yields an intensification of the self, a reflexive elaboration of identity.

The subject selects, displays, and comments upon the mediated reality of the internet, becoming thereby a validated part of that reality and defining for itself and for others its own nature — or rather a rhetorical version of "its own nature."

An important point about identity here:

Bloggers, however, seem less interested in role playing than in locating, or constructing, for themselves and for others, an identity that they can understand as unitary, as "real." The blog thus seems to us to be a counter-movement to postmodern destabilization, a "backward motion toward the source," as Robert Frost put it.

Cite for this article:

Miller, Carolyn R. and Dawn Shepherd. "Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog" Into the Blogosphere. Ed. Laura J. Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson, Clancy Ratliff, and Jessica Reyman. June 2004. 26 October 2005. <http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/
_analysis_of_the_weblog.html >

Interesting citations to follow up on:

Weinberger, Dave. Small Pieces Loosely Joined (A Unified Theory of the Web). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002.

Schryer, C. F. (2002). Genre and Power: A Chronotopic Analysis. In R. Coe, L. Lingard & T. Teslenko (Eds.), The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre: Strategies for Stability and Change (pp. 73-102). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Stark, M. (2003, 26 May). You, Me, Celebrity. Brandweek, 44, 17-19.

Calvert, C. (2000). Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Walker, Jill. (2003, 22 August). Final Version of Weblog Definition. Retrieved 31 December, 2003.

Rodzvilla, John. We've got blog: how weblogs are changing our culture. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002.


I should also mention that this article was cited by Composing the Self: Of Diaries and Lifelogs, which I also read tonight. A great article with the novel thesis that weblogs and diaries aren't so different after all.

The lesson here is that you should always stick the title of an interesting article into Google Scholar to see who's talking about it.

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The Weiner Hypotheses   Tuesday, October 25   8:24 PM

I talked to Prof. Weiner, my "Writing Biography" teacher, again today about blogging and narrative, mainly trying to get some idea about where I should start theory-wise — there must be some narratology/rhetoric tome with obvious applicability here. My longstanding casual interest notwithstanding, I'm new to both of those areas of study and I keep thinking I should "catch up."

Prof. Weiner was generally dismissive of modern scholarship on weblogs, particularly the LiveJournal scholarship: she blogs about sci-fi in one of the more private LiveJournal communities. She did mention an article in Biography quarterly, apparently a response to the Online Lives issue I have yet to read, which I'll have to remember to ask her about.

We've had a similar if slightly more protracted conversation on the subject of blogging-and-narrative before, and I recognized the following points from that earlier conversation.

Call them the Weiner hypotheses:

1. Our Bold Hero's generation will be the one to write most of the scholarship on this genre. Many theorists who're just wetting their toes in the phenomenon don't understand what's important, how things work.

2. Most scholars overestimated the extent to which weblogs would free people of their identities, show us that gay people are just people after all, that sort of thing. In fact, bloggers tend to assume socially-constructed roles and identities in an effort to express themselves.

3. The continuing emphasis on intertexuality, distributed narrative, the depth model, and that sort of thing ignores the pragmatics of weblogs. Most readers don't follow links or comment. With seven or eight windows open, the average reader is devoting scant time and attention to all the bells and whistles at a given site.

Those seem to be the key themes, though I'll probably talk to her about this again within the week. Hovering around the conversation was the following point, which keeps coming to mind as I read all this scholarship:

4. The lone blog with no outgoing or incoming links, no comments, and no effect on the discussion at other blogs — what I'm calling the hapax blogomenon — is incredibly common. In fact it may be the most common form of blog.

I should mention, in case it's not obvious, that I don't necessarily agree with all of Prof. Weiner's points, especially #3. But I have nothing to refute that claim with as yet, unless I can beat it to death with the technocratic assumptions of my ideology.

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Bridging the Gap: Surprisingly Worthless   Monday, October 24   3:14 PM

Lots of blog scholars cite Prof. Susan Herring's studies, mainly, I think, because she provides so many concrete facts and figures to work with. Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs (pdf) pops up everywhere.

What is genre analysis? It's "an exercise in classification of 'typified acts of communication' based on their form and substance" (2).

There's some value in the article, including a fairly decent history of blogs:

Since mid-1999, blogging as an online activity has been increasing exponentially, enabled by the release of the first free blogging software (Pitas), and fueled by reports from the mainstream media of the grassroots power of blogs as alternative news sources, especially in the aftermath of 9/11/01 and during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (1)

And the basic assertion, which the authors treat like some big revelation, that blogs were influenced by other online genres:

Our analysis suggests that blogs are neither unique nor reproduced entirely from offline genres, but rather constitute a hybrid genre that draws from multiple sources, including other Internet genres. (2)

But by far the most interesting detail as far as I was concerned was the discussion of genre categories. What kinds of blog are there?

The article attributes a three-category system to veteran metablogger Rebecca Blood: there's the notebook, the filter, and the personal journal (2).

And then there's this great system attributed to Prof. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, one of the best classification systems I've come across, which groups blogs by focus and authorship. Here's the table on page three:

In comparison to both these systems, the classification scheme used by Herring et al. is unappealing: they categorize the blogs in their survey as either personal journals, filters, k-logs (a new term for me, it seems to mean something like "knowledge weblogs"), mixed, or other. We're to take their word for it that no other types (e.g. Blood's "notebook") emerged, even though 14% of the weblogs in their survey were "mixed" or "other."

Other reasons to disregard the data here? LiveJournal and other online diary websites were excluded up front in order to diminish the significance of personal journal blogs (3), which to a stats newbie like me looks like sample bias. Blogs with less than two entries were also excluded, "so that the practices of neophyte bloggers would not bias the sample at a time when new blogs are being created daily" (3).

Here's some further qualification that articles citing this essay tend to ignore:

Thus the blogs selected for analysis were established, English language, text-based blogs. An estimated 60% of the randomly selected blogs met these combined criteria. As we were primarily interested in active blogs, we also excluded any blogs that had not been updated within the two weeks prior to data collection; this resulted in the elimination of several additional blogs. (3-4)

Also, the data for this study was collected in Spring 2003, and if my suspicions are correct, blogs created these days are probably somewhat different in their genre intent than they were two years ago. At the very least, there're more entrenched A-List bloggers nowadays.

Cite for the article:

Herring, S. C., Scheidt, L. A., Bonus, S., & Wright, E. (2004).
Bridging the gap: A genre analysis of weblogs. Proceedings of
the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
(HICSS-37). Los Alamitos: IEEE Press.

Interesting citations to follow up on:

Crowston, K. & Williams, M. (2000). Reproduced and emergent genres of communication on the World-Wide Web. The Information Society, 16, 201-216.

Dillon, A. & Gushrowski, B.A. (2000). Genre and the Web: Is the personal home page the first uniquely digital genre? Journal of The American Society for Information Science, 51, 202-205.

Krishnamurthy, S. (2002). The Multidimensionality of Blog Conversations: The Virtual Enactment of September 11. In Maastricht, The Netherlands: Internet Research 3.0.

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Blogs as "post-informational"   1:50 PM

Some interesting thoughts in Kate Raynes-Goldie's First Monday article "Pulling sense out of today's informational chaos."

She's all about LiveJournal, and I don't find the analysis of that blogging community very interesting (my usual problem with most things LiveJournal) but I do like some of her broader points on the landscape:

LiveJournal and other blogging services have developed out of what can be best described as a synthesis of the current post-modern and increasingly post-informationalist society.

It is post-modernism's subjective view of truth as being multiple, combined with post-informationalism's rejection of modernist notions of information as truth in favour of knowledge as useful, that informs an understanding of LiveJournal as a knowledge-creation system. In other words, it is not that there is absolute truth as modernism would suggest, or that there is no truth as post-modernism holds — rather that in this informational chaos, the question of truth is not really a useful one.

After mulling that paragraph over for a day, I'm starting to wonder whether readers of diary blogs really do think in terms of the useful (up to and including the sublime observation and the witty remark?) instead of the truthful.

Cite for the article:

Raynes-Goldie, Kate. "Pulling sense out of today's informational chaos: LiveJournal as a site of knowledge creation and sharing," December 2004. First Monday, volume 9, number 12. http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_12/raynes/index.html

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First person sidenote in real time   Sunday, October 23   7:14 PM

I should mention that the great phrase "blogs are a first person narrative in real time" was apparently coined by Prof. Weez at Elouise Oyzon's External Memory. It's not grounding-breaking — many of us have at one point or other conceived of our lives as real-time first- or even third-person narratives — but it's concise and to the point.

Sadly I can't find any scholarship by Prof. Weez on "my subject"; I guess her comment was just a one-off.

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Notes on Walker's "Distributed Narrative"   5:51 PM

Just finished reading Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks [.pdf] by Prof. Jill Walker at the University of Bergen. Her interests seem a bit broader than mine — the essay talks about stickers, flickr, and various other forms of "distributed narrative," which she presents as the next evolutionary step after "intertexuality."

Walker translates Aristotle's unities into modern Unities of Distribution, so that we have:

Distribution in Time: The reader, player or viewer experiences the narrative in bits and pieces over a period of time.

Distribution in Space: There is no single place in which the whole narrative can be experienced.

Distribution of Authorship: No single author or group of authors has complete contol of the narrative.

The most interesting bits, for me, came near the end of the essay, where she talks about how the story of one person (blogger Justin Hall) forms a distributed narrative spread out all over the internet:

Distributed in Time and Space

Tracking these distributed narratives is what fascinates us about reading weblogs from day to day, week to week, year to year. We follow Justin Hall's story as he publishes it, but we not only read his self-narration on his own website, we also come across his name elsewhere. When he links to an article he has written or the website of a place or event that he has visited, we can read these as a background or extension of the main story. More striking, though, are the links to the narratives of other people in his life. We can read about Justin on his friends' blogs as well as on his own. When a blogger breaks up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, readers often get to follow the story from both peoples' perspective. Justin himself may comment on other peoples' sites, narrating bits of the story that may not be explicit on his own site. Others may narrate parts of the story that he has not told himself. The story splits, spreads, continues.

This distribution of narration is typical of weblogs. In closeknit communites, like LiveJournal, the narration of weblogs sometimes seems like a group autobiography. In clusters of academic weblogs, which my blog belongs to, narrators sometimes visit each other, or visit the same conferences, and so new constellations of narratives grow forth. (15)

She's also on target in describing why novels written as blogs fail where the superficially similar genre of epistolary fiction succeeded. (I tried to write a story centered around blogs and blogging last year, but even faking plausible yet interesting blog posts proved too difficult.)

Blog novels miss out on links, of course, but just as importantly, they miss out on the blogrolls of links to related blogs, they miss out on the RSS feeds of other bloggers who were at the same event and wrote about the hero of the first blog, they miss out on the temporality of only being able to read a blog in the tempo that it is written, they miss out on the active searching for a distributed narrative. (15)

The remainder of that section is likewise fascinating. She revisited many of the same themes in the next section, which also/again expands her focus to narratives not related to blogs. Folksonomic tags as distributed authorship?

Distribution of Authorship

One of the ways in which the story of a weblogger is distributed is by the story being told by several different narrators, on their independent sites. An even more radical distribution of authorship is that which is automated, where an algorithm or search is the only thing that draws the narrative together.


These emergent narratives, or self-organising narratives, perhaps, require algorithms and interfaces designed by humans for us to see them. (17)

Walker is modest about her categories, noting that "to write about these works that I claim are not unified, not things, not even, really, works, I've succumbed to traditional attempts at definition and categorisation" (19), but they seem pretty useful for framing a discussion of blogs.

I should also mention her interesting thoughts on blogs in the conclusion, which though rhetorically posed as an irritating failure to assert argument, are interesting nonetheless.

Or imagine a single blog. All alone. There are no other blogs. There may be readers, but there are no commenters, nobody discussing the same issues for the blogger to link to. No links leading to the blog. Is it still a blog? Or can blogs only exist as one of many, as part of a crowd? I want to read blogs closely and write their connections, tracing the ways in which narratives evolve. I want to think about how this connects with ideas of emergence, of memes and of viral or contagious media. (20)

I don't agree, personally. This hapax blogomenon that Walker posits would still be a blog. It seems like this is a clear-cut case of definition-by-research-interest. Let's ask Hobbes and Plato to define philosophy, shall we? Have you heard the one about Plato's blog?

Cite for the article:

Walker, J. "Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks." in Consalvo, M., Hunsinger, J. and Baym, N. eds. The 2005 Association of Internet Researchers Annual, Peter Lang, New York, Forthcoming.

Interesting citations to follow up on:

Himmer, Steve. 2004. "The Labyrinth Unbound: Weblogs as Literature." In Into the Blogosphere, edited by L. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff and J. Reyman: University of Minnesota.

Which pops up everywhere. And there was also:

Ulmer, Gregory. 2003. Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy. New
York: Longman.

Which didn't seem that interesting blog-wise but did have a link to this nice Amazon reading list.

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First post   Saturday, October 22   4:57 PM

The Master of Arts Program in the Humanities here at UChicago requires me to write a master's thesis in order to get my diploma. It could be a creative thesis (and I'll admit that the prospect of writing a work of fiction was tempting) but it's my impression that most of us are writing academic papers on the subject of our choice.

Right now it looks like my research project is going to have something to do with blogging: the short description I sent in a few minutes after the deadline last Sunday was "blogging, narrative, and identity," but that's not written in stone.

I'll admit that I'm new to this field. Though I've been casually interested in blogging, especially its literary aspects/implications, for quite some time, I've never before engaged the subject academically. My undergraduate education was a mix of English lit survey courses (I was particularly interested in modernism) and fiction writing workships. I took a single theory course my senior year, a ten-week survey of influential twentieth century theorists, and only one of those theorists dealt with the Internet.

This page serves a number of purposes: It lets me segregate writing on a subject of little interest to most of my readers from the rest of my personal weblog, it allows me to organize my thoughts and sources, it (perhaps ill-advisedly) lets readers watch me compose my master's thesis, and (assuming anyone else is interested) it allows me to test my arguments and ideas on an audience.

Where am I starting? Right now I'm reading through Into the Blogosphere, a collection of scholarly articles on blogging. My friend Graham happens to have an article there. Other good sources online are Google Scholar and, oddly enough, del.icio.us, where a user named glueckauf has tagged sites about "blogresearch." It'll be a while before I sort through everything; I probably should have started with a narrower focus but I'm still trying to figure out the most interesting area of study here.

As far as meatspace goes, I'm also searching through my library catalog and the catalogs of nearby librarys with interlibrary loan, looking for books about weblogs, blogging, or blogs. Not much there so far. A lot of introductory stuff I don't really need; I've found about three interesting books.


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