[As a disclaimer of sorts. Been interested in cultural and social aspects of online activities for a while (since 1993). Never really did in-depth research on any of these issues. Started this blog for fun. Haven’t been trying very actively to attract readership to this blog. Haven’t been involved in the “community” as much more than a casual observer. Can’t really be called an “outsider” but haven’t really tried to become an insider.]
Many-to-Many: the biases of links
Interesting piece of trendspotting on blogging.
Many assumptions. Some are explicitly acknowledged (looking for the gender angle). Some are quite general (“bias” is a bad word). Some define a framework (seeing “power” as measure). And yet some, perhaps the most interesting, come from “blogger culture” itself. In terms of ethnography, some would say that danah has “gone native” in the blogger world. Some comments to the blog entry allude to something similar. Interesting embedded evaluations of blogs (not necessarily as good or bad but as successful and unsuccessful).
An effect of these assumptions and the inside-looking perspective is that blogging is restricted to one specific model. In that model, one’s reasons for blogging are assumed to be “the same as everyone else’s,” namely to attract readership. Other bloggers seem to make similar assumptions in giving advice to would-be bloggers.
A large part of those assumptions can be seen in concepts and ideas that are left undefined. For instance, the “blogroll.” Anyone involved in blogging is familiar with the concept and it’s definitely an essential part of many blogging practices. To some people, it might in fact distinguish “real” blogging from things like corporate weblogs or blog-like “content management systems” which are not to be confused with real blogs. A real blogger is one who reads other blogs, links to other blogs, knows other bloggers, sends links to Technorati and Del.icio.us, lives in the blogosphere. There’s a large number of these in different parts of the world. It does seem that the links between blogs in a given language are stronger than across languages but there are very dense networks of bloggers who seem to represent “The Blogosphere.”
Still, most people are outside this sphere. It includes people without Internet connections, of course, but it also includes people who write blog entries once in a while. Danah’s entry is meant for the members of the ‘sphere, not for the occasional weblog writer or reader.
This isn’t meant as critique or criticism. Just noticed that part of another trend. A trend in blogger identity. The “us/them” of blogging isn’t necessarily between reader and writer (as there’s a large overlap between the two). It seems to be mostly between “real bloggers” and “mainstream media” along with pseudo-bloggers (like corporate blogs).