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Session: Bloggers & Blogging October 18, 2007

Posted by Sarah in AoIR, bloggers&blogging.
Tags: , , ,

This session featured two papers about blogging and two that were more about Internet research more generally. Presenters were Mary-Helen Ward on PhD blogging in Australia, Maria Bakardjieva and Georgia Gaden on blogs as a technology of the self, Denise Rall on how people become Internet researchers and Ulla Bunz on what AoIR conference paper titles tell us about Internet research.

PhD Blogging in Australia

Mary-Helen Ward presented on the use of blogging in the Australian PhD process, particularly how it relates to pedagogy. She and her co-author (Sandra Ward) are interested in what bloggers learn about the PhD through the performance of their work. There was some interesting discussion of whether or not it matters if these blogs are public or if reflection papers passed back and forth between sutdent and supervisor would do just as well. Mary-Helen said that what really matters is that it’s a CONVERSATION that occurs through comments.

Blogs as Technology of the Self

Next up were Maria Bakarjieva and her student Georgia Gaden who are looking at blogs as a technology of the self. I actually had the opportunity to talk to Maria quite a bit yesterday after the doctoral colloquium so I had gotten a sneak-preview of the presentaiton. They’re grounding their work in Foucauldian theory and have conducted a number of focus groups with folks who live in the Calgary area. They are arguing that blogging is a meso discourse – between the micro of personal discourse between intimates and the macro discourse of those in power. This has clear analogs with how I’m applying Meyrowitz’s ideas about the “middle region” of interaction. They have found that people blog from a number of subject positions: consumer, producer, worker, political citizen, cultural citizen, community members, and in-group members, and these positions are not mutually exclusive – a blogger can inhabit more than one of them. (I feel like this is an interesting area where one could talk about blogger choice and how they conceptualize and cater to their (perceived) audiences.) Finally they pointed out that blogging can be transformative – their respondents have changed their behavior as a result of their identites as bloggers – they go out seeking interesting experiences for the sake of blogging about them.

From these two papers about blogging, we moved to a couple of papers about Internet research more generally.

Paths to Internet Research

Denise Rall talked about Internet research as play, arguing that play is necessary. She cited Laurel Richardson’s Fields of Play to point out that we like to “mess about” when doing our academic work. She then told us about four pathways that we take to Internet research:

  1. professional
  2. peripatetic
  3. research-based
  4. immersed

She then gave us an example of each of these types and how those individuals came to Internet reserach. Ultimately, she said, play is how we engage with new stuff and learn. So it’s important.

Meta AoIR

Finally, Ulla Bunz presented on an analysis that she and her student Kristin Carlton have done on patterns of paper titles that have been presented at the AoIR conference. They created a data set of all the titles of papers from the AoIR conferences from 2000 through 2005. They coded these up by technology that the paper was about and then the categories that they fell into. Ulla didn’t go into a lot of detail about their data. The one thing I was super-interested in, trends in titles over time, she didn’t go into, but those results are in the paper that they submitted for the conference site so I’ll have to go get it off the web. They found that the most common categories were relationships, theory, and politics. Surprisingly, among the least popular were gender and sexuality (and a whole bunch of others that I didn’t jot down). I confess that I thought, “hey, I’m one of those gender papers!” (from Toronto 2003).



1. mhward - October 23, 2007

Hey! Thanks for this entry. I hope you enjoyed my presentation of our ideas.

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