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AoIR 5.0 in review September 24, 2004

Posted by Sarah in Uncategorized.

Now that I’m finally caught up on things like e-mail, I can actually think about writing up my thoughts on the conference!

Arrived, got myself checked in for the conference and into my room. Somehow I ended up with an en-suite room rather than a normal one, which I’m pretty sure isn’t what I reserved, but I wasn’t going to complain about having my own bathroom. I had run into Helene, one of my compatriots from OIISDP, and it turned out that we were housed in the same building. We went to lunch, and then to a session on “The Role of the Ordinary” organized by some of the folks
affiliated with INCITE: Jenny Sunden, Kate Orton-Johnson, and Kris Cohen. Jenny’s presentation was about work that really I should have read a very long time ago and that I’m going to have to track down to use in the revision of ROFLMAO! that I’m working on right now.

Went to a morning session entitled “Discourse Analysis & Uses, Collaborative Writing, Wikis” that I suppose was about that, in some way. It was one of those sessions with interesting papers that didn’t quite hang together. Most interesting to me was the paper by Jennifer-Stromer-Galley and Anna Martinson entitled “Coherent Argument or Fragmented Flaming” in which they examined chat rooms to assess whether or not topic matters in online discourse. They studied chat rooms on one of the same chat servers that I studied in ROFLMAO!, comparing different types (by topic) of rooms to see if there was a difference in the type of discourse that was present. It seemed that there was, and I chatted with Jennifer about the characteristics of that particular chat server after the presentation.

Afternoon session was the one on “Identity Online.” There were four interesting papers in the session: one looking at the importance of nicknames in online environments, one about “the other self”, one about self-narration on LiveJournal, and one about the bits of our online identities that we don’t have control over – the stuff that other people post about us on the Internet. Of these, Lori Kendall’s paper on “Getting Inside the ‘Box of Sentences’: LiveJournal and the Meaning of Self-Narration” was the most directly related to my line of research. It was a fairly theoretical paper, looking at how self-narration in the context of LJ fits into a symbolic-interactionist framework (she started from Goffman, which of course I will always approve of). The talk raised a lot of interesting questions for me – first off, how do comments fit into such a scheme? These are parts of the self-narration that the self that’s doing the narrating doesn’t necessarily have control over! (Yes, they could delete comments or not allow comments, etc., but there are norms governing such behavior, etc.) Aditionally, a user of LiveJournal has the potential to perform a number of different identities for a number of different audiences by using custom friends groups. Lori pointed out that another interesting element of this is that these choices are intentional – even a part of the narration itself, I suppose.

Tuesday: the Day of ‘Blogs
That’s right, Tuesday there were FIVE ‘blogging sessions. As is the norm in conferences, some of the talks didn’t actually fit with the ‘blogging theme, but that’s ok. Several of them made a lot of sense in the context despite not being precisely about ‘blogs. As always, there were presentations that were really thought-provoking and I think I often got more out of the discussions at the end of the sessions than I did out of some of the talks, but that’s always how it goes.

One session featured a paper by Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepherd entitled “The Ubiquity of the Blog: A Genre Analysis” which on its face shouldn’t have an obvious direct link with my work, but they did rasie a lot of interesting, thought-provoking questions about public and private and the divide between the two. I chatted with Carolyn about the whole thing a bit after the presentation and I really need to go get their paper. Fortunately, it’s online.

My session included four papers: one on A-List ‘blogs and the ways in which they do (or do not) create community, one on LiveJournal use by British Goths, one on distributed authorship, and mine. I felt like my presentation went really well, and I received a LOT of really thoughtful, helpful questions and feedback, including suggestions of other conceptualizations of public and private to investigate. I really wish I wasn’t too busy to get it into actual paper form and submit it for the next Internet Research Annual, but the deadline is a week from today and, well, just no. Not with the revise-and-resubmit monkey hanging on my back, to say nothing of teaching.

If I had to select a theme for the day of ‘blogging, it would be “what the hell are we all talking about anyway?” There was a lot of discussion of what a ‘blog is, what it isn’t, and the implications of that. It comes down to the fact that there are a lot of different types of websites being published using similar dynamic publishing software, and they can’t all be compared. Alex Halavais suggested that next year there won’t be any ‘blogging sessions. I suppose maybe we’ll have ourselves better sorted out by then; we’ll have to see.



1. Lilia Efimova - September 26, 2004

On your paper: have some semi-related stuff at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/01/22.html#a951

Check the links at the end, especially http://www.corante.com/many/archives/2003/10/14/obrien_on_public_private_and_secret_discourse.php (this is the one I was referring to in my comment)

2. Netwoman - September 27, 2004

Hey! Was wondering what happened to you on Wed? I waited until about 1:25 and then left…hope you are/were ok….
see you soon

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