Wk 5: Blogging

iLecture: Tama Leaver


Media perspectives were initially suspicious of blogging and viewed them unfairly. They felt that bloggers had nothing to say and that because there was no regulation, there was no validity to blogs. Nowadays however, newspapers have discovered the benefits of blogs and have them on their online sites as they appear more conversational and are a drawcard to their site.

Rebecca Blood said that blogs changed the nature of the Web forever because we have gone from being participants to be authors. Because of this web 2.0 technology that allows anyone with a browser to create something new, all of our opinions can be openly discussed and viewed.

Tama then dissected a blog into it’s parts, including posts, rss, permalinks, trackbacks etc. He estimates around 200 million blogs exist around the world and that many of those are never updated. But that’s a lot of blogs for a history of about 10 years. He also explained that these days the definition of a blog is blurry. Some social network sites includes blogs, but some are inactive. Are these to be counted as blogs because they exist, even if not used?

Early on, it was noticed that there was a strong correlation between world/national events and spikes in number of blog posts. This showed that people were actively blogging about the news that affected them. In 2004, blogging history changed forever, when Japanese blogs were more prevalent than English language blogs. So blogging was no longer a ‘Western’ or english language phenomenon.

Rebecca Blood also said that blogs shift us from being an audience to being the public and from being a consumer to being a creator. Blogs keep us sane in a time where we could easily suffer from information overload.

In 2006, Time Magazine named YOU as Person of the Year. This recognition acknowledges the impact of user generated content and the significance of participatory culture.

Clay Shirky, who wrote Here Comes Everybody, says that techology has to get boring, being inconsequential, almost invisible before it becomes functional. He said that once it becomes boring, it means everyone is using it and then it becomes useful.

consider viewing salam pax’s blog particularly around 2003. dear_raed.blogspot.com

and images from thememoryhole.org

These sites show how blogs changed the nature of media. The first site showed how an individual from another country could present a point of view oppositional to that of the government of a Western country and become a force on its own. the second site shows that one person can instantaneously remove long standing ‘agreements’ of conduct held by mainstream media.

The London Bombings in 2005 were not reported and photographed immediately by mainstream media but by people on the street, the public, the average Jo. It was their images, their videos that were used by mainstream media to supplement the story, because the reporting was done during the event. Mobile phones have made it possible for everyone to be their own publishing house.

Citizen Journalism is not in competition with journalism, but is more in the role of gatekeepers, or Keeping the Bastards honest (to quote Don Chipp). They draw attention to false reports or incorrect information that mainstream media make. Citizen Journalism also allows for very local reporting and information sharing that is not conducted by mass media.

Tama asserts that 95% of people do not blog about news events.


Activity One – Discussion
Having read the Rebecca Blood and Jill Walker readings for this week, you are encouraged to discuss the following issues on the discussion boards:

  1. The early days of blogging were extremely optimistic about the potential of blogs to give everyone who wanted one a voice and a venue to publish.  Now that blogging is over a decade old, to what extent have these early predictions come true?
  2. Rettberg talks about blogs facilitating ‘distributed conversations’ and even ‘distributed communities’; what do you understand these terms to mean?

1.  I think that the original concept is coming to the fore and has begun to fulfill those expectations. I think that blogging is like breathing to some people, whether it’s on current events, an idea, a random thought or a recipe. And it’s not just text blogs that are becoming popular – photoblogging, videoblogging, podcasting – all of these modes and means are available for everyone. I think that even quiet shy personalites can rise up and express themselves in whatever ways they want to. It’s like a ‘freedom to create’ license. And you can be incredibly creative or incredibly lame in your designs when it comes to blogging. Recipe blogs seem to love doing it all by including more than one type of feed: photos, videos, text recipes etc. Blogs are becoming more accessible to the disabled through clever theme extensions and this will mean that a subculture that previously couldn’t dwell in the blogosphere now can. And when they get dull and bored and disinterested, the blogs just stay there, like a digital shadow and new blogs are created. One of the readings said that you only need 15 interested people to feel you have a successful blog. I kinda like that.


Activity Two – Introduction to Blogs and RSS Feeds
Over the last two weeks you have been introduced to the idea of RSS feeds. This week you will be using that information in a practical way by beginning to aggregate blog posts that are of interest to you.

I have used Google Reader to set up mine. I really don’t like reading blogs though, well not many and normally I prefer photo blogs.


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