August 25, 2004

predictable process of personal blogging?

Follow-up to does blogging change the way you think? from Kay's stuff

Alison and I have been talking about the way that a new blog changes in style over time… and how this can replicate the development of a conversation with somebody new. I think I recognise the following stages in blog postings:
First blog: a slightly self-conscious ‘hello, this is me – don’t know how this will work out’
Then ‘about me’ blogs, followed about ‘what I've been doing lately’ blogs, often with photos
Then a more discursive style evolves – the blogger contributes to, and initiates topics, in style that invites responses, at this stage the more reflective thinking kicks in – and a new discourse may develop.
Finally, and not inevitably, the blogs become more personal, issues are described in terms of personal dilemmas and concerns rather than abstract ideas. This is where a log can become more of a personal journal. Different temperaments will be more or less self-aware and/or self-revealing so this stage may never appear in the blogs of the naturally introspective.
Does this sequence make sense?

- 15 comments by 4 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Yes, it looks like a lot of people follow that pattern.

    25 Aug 2004, 12:08

  2. Robert O'Toole

    "Then a more discursive style evolves"
    "Finally, and not inevitably, the blogs become more personal"

    What concerns me is that the open community approach of Warwick Blogs encourages people who are more comfortable with writing entries for an audience, and that it encourages that kind of blogging. This might make moving to the last stage more difficult.

    When I started blogging on MoveableType, the experience was the other way round. First i mastered blogging in isolation, without expecting an audience. Then as the audience developed, i started to write in a way effected by that.

    25 Aug 2004, 12:17

  3. Steve Rumsby

    I agree that most of what I see, and indeed most of what I write, here is written with the expectation that others will read it, and appears to be written either to inform or to provoke discussion. I see very few entries written entirely for the benefit of the writer – the personal journal. Then again, the few entries like that in my blog are protected. They are, after all, just for me, and maybe I'm just not comfortable exposing such entries to public scrutiny? If others behave the same way, then it is possible that there are two faces of Warwick Blogs – the publically accessible one that is written with others in mind, and the private one that only the authors ever see.

    Maybe the private face will break out into public view as people get used to blogging? Maybe some encouragement is required? I guess if some brave people lead the way, that would encourage others to follow suit?

    25 Aug 2004, 12:55

  4. I guess blogs reflect communication in general. We chose what we will tell all and sundry, we tell those closest to us the more personal matters/show them personal photographs, and have other groups of friends inbetween the two. Some people are very open about their private lives, and others are far more private. We naturally filter information we share and the same seems to be true of blogs. The aspects of my thoughts/holiday/weekend I wish to keep to myself I do so, those aspects I wish to share with a few I can make available to a select group, and if I want to talk about my new camera I can open that up to the entire blog community.

    I also find it interesting to note how frequently comments to blogs are affirming each others ideas/celebrations/hobbies within a friendship group or amongst peers.

    25 Aug 2004, 14:12

  5. Steve Rumsby

    This is certainly a very friendly place, which does encourage you to post more and be a bit more open. It does have quite a community feel to it at the moment. I wonder how much of that ethos will be retained when the blog community becomes so much larger in October? Maybe we'll end up with with a number of micro-communities, of people who regularly read each other's blogs, rather than one big community? I certainly can't imagine how one big blog community would work, nor how it would feel.

    I know work is being done to make it possible/easier to keep track of favorite blogs and interesting entries, and I think that's going to be important to keep the community feel.

    25 Aug 2004, 14:28

  6. these comments are important… As more students bcome members of the blogging community will they be faced with the same issues that make everyday life so difficult(!): how to indentify, maintain and contribute to personal and wider circles of interest, support and learning.
    And what about the brave lone blogger who reveals something of him/herslf into un-caring blog-space; a posting seen by nobody and/or prompting no response?

    25 Aug 2004, 14:36

  7. We are addressing the problem of the "one big blog community" with the formation of a far better blog directory and blog collections. Shortly there will be pages where you can see just entries/blogs from people in a certain group, be that a course/department/module/friends/tutor groups/residences/etc. Hopefully that will help people feel part of a manageable community rather than one huge place where they do not feel a part of.

    25 Aug 2004, 14:39

  8. Steven Carpenter

    "And what about the brave lone blogger who reveals something of him/herslf into un-caring blog-space; a posting seen by nobody and/or prompting no response?"

    I've wondered this myself – the expectation and perception of an audience is an important factor, but I mused that negative responses (rather than none at all) might be more worrying.

    "I also find it interesting to note how frequently comments to blogs are affirming each others ideas/celebrations/hobbies within a friendship group or amongst peers."

    Absolutely right, but additionally the system is facilitating communication across groups, even with a relatively small number of blogs in existence.

    25 Aug 2004, 14:56

  9. Robert O'Toole

    What is also interesting though is the prospect of people finding blogging to be useful for themselves regardless of the presence of an audience. My philosophy/aesthetics entries are for myslef, and i'm doing it to experiment with using the blog as a writing/thinking tool. But at the same time I have no objection to anyone with some knowledge of the subject commenting.

    25 Aug 2004, 16:20

  10. Robert O'Toole

    And i'm told that being an Arts PhD student is also rather like being a lone blogger!

    25 Aug 2004, 16:21

  11. "What concerns me is that the open community approach of Warwick Blogs encourages people who are more comfortable with writing entries for an audience, and that it encourages that kind of blogging. This might make moving to the last stage more difficult."

    I think that this is true given that the community is restricted to Warwick people. I would have made some of my private entries public, had this been an international community. As it is I feel that my posts will be read by my friends/colleagues and there are some things I don't necessarily want to share with them. On the other I would quite happily tell my deepest troubles to a complete stranger.

    26 Aug 2004, 10:43

  12. Robert O'Toole

    Andrew, that's exactly how i feel about it! I used to blog all sorts of crazy personal stuff before Warwick Blogs, and it was entirely public. But i don't do it now that lots of other people i know also blog.

    Selecting the option not to show the entry in the aggregation (or collection as it may now be called) can help.

    26 Aug 2004, 12:34

  13. Returning to this topic after a bit of thought…
    We seem to have re-activated the 'who for' discussion about blogs…
    I think there may be at least three variables that will lead a blogger to post into either the 'private' category or into a more public part of the blog:

    Purpose of the blog – personal journal or onpoing discussion thread, for example

    Personality/temperament – blogging can be attractive to both introspective and extravert people, who would make different choices about how much of themselves to reveal to people known to them, or to the wider blog community. As already mentioned, the more introspective may – apparently paradoxically – be more willing to publish to unknown readers than to a small group of known others.

    Writing skills and/or self-confidence in own communication skills; well-written and/or amusing blogs could end up on many 'favourites' links – with all the pressure that would put onto the favourite writer to keep on delivering the goods. Not necessarily a bad thing – but maybe an unintended consequence and a real constraint on the writer who might want to post the occasional rough and ready or non-funny blog.

    27 Aug 2004, 11:42

  14. Robert O'Toole

    Kay, i remember we talked to a prominent academic about blogs sometime ago. He said that he would be worried about the extra pressure that would be put on them by maintaining a public blog. Obviously our privacy controls would help with that, but even within a department the pressure can be too great. That may also apply to postgrads. This needs to be considered.

    27 Aug 2004, 16:42

  15. i agree entirely Andrew. certainly, i don't mind the idea of my mad/incoherent stream of thought being launched into this mass of anonymity. similarly i don't mind puclishing my work, again, if the audience is anonymous.

    this being part of a community however means i have to keep reminding myself that people related to the story, might read it. or that i may be infringing some sort of copyright by writing my own stuff up simultaneously to offering it for publication.

    07 Nov 2004, 17:54


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