Three Research Articles That Changed My View on Blogging

Filed as Features on February 18, 2008 5:02 pm

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In the past two years I’ve read many thought provoking articles on blogging. Unfortunately many of these articles are hidden behind the great academic firewall. Researcher and blogger danah boyd explains how and why many academic articles are behind “heavy iron walls” in her blog post ‘open-access is the future: boycott locked-down academic journals.

While subscription fees may keep academic journals going it prevents interesting articles from circulating widely and circulation creates discussion. Fortunately there are also many great research articles out there in the open. I’d like to share three pieces that changed the way I think about blogs.

1. A Blogger’s Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium - danah boyd
This article explains what makes it so difficult to study blogs. It starts with the question “how tool developers, media, researchers, and practitioners have conceptualized blogging” and how all these different people have created their own definition of blogs and blogging. A new ‘definition’ or rather framework is presented that invites scholars to conceptualize blogs as both a medium and a bi-product of practice. We blog with blogs.

2. Feral Hypertext: When Hypertext Literature Escapes Control (PDF) – Jill Walker Rettberg
This paper looks at the history of hypertext and hyperlinks and how we are constantly trying to keep links under control. There used to be one author who decided which links were being made but in the light of blogs links have gone wild. Bloggers decide who they link to and whose trackbacks and pingbacks they accept (or delete) but what bloggers cannot control are links from other weblogs. All these links create a narrative surrounding the blog.

3. Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality – Clay Shirky
Ever wondered why it is so hard as a new comer in the blogosphere to gain attention and status? This article from 2003 on power law distributions aka the 80/20 Rule explains why the top 10 favorites on Technorati hardly ever changes.

Feel like reading more? Here’s a very extensive list to 189 (academic and non-academic) articles on blogging.

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  1. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on February 24, 2008 at 11:54 am
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    Oh, excellent references. Thank you so much. I’m eager to dig into these.

    I’ve been rereading some of the articles published years ago about how to evaluate the legitimacy of what you read on the web and it reminds me of the power of print. It’s easy to believe it when you read it in such a “final” form, and sometimes, we forget the power of blogs, and the power of links, to influence us, our thinking, and our decisions.

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