blogging about blogging



other blogging about blogging

Davies, J. & Merchant, G. (2006) Looking from the inside out: Academic blogging as new literacy in A New Literacies Sampler, New York: Peter Lang.

The authors of this paper conducted an autoethnographic study of blogging by first authoring individual blogs and second, by co-authoring a metablog in which they analyzed their blogging practices and events as they emerged, using tags as coding tools.

Affordances of blogs:

  • simultaneously serves “as a tool for interpersonal communication and mass communication” (Bortee, 2005, p. 25 cited on p.169)
  • combines the personal with the public as well as the serious with the frivolous (p.169)
  • can serve as an extension of a blogger’s real life persona (p.179)
  • can promote discussion of “ideas in embryo” (p.170)

The paper is organized by three sections: 1) Blogginas a social practic (theoretical and conceptual framework; 2) methodological considerations of studying online texts; and 3) emergent themes from their research on their own blogging.

Section 1: Blogging as a Social Practice

The authors outline a pretty extensive theortetical framework of “blogging as a social practice” highlighting especially the use of blogs to develop ” online affinity spaces” (Davies, 2005; Gee, 2004; and Knwobel, 2005).

Affordances of blogs:

  • simultaneously serves “as a tool for interpersonal communication and mass communication” (Bortee, 2005, p. 25 cited on p.169)
  • combines the personal with the public as well as the serious with the frivolous (p.169)
  • can serve as an extension of a blogger’s real life persona (p.179)
  • can promote discussion of “ideas in embryo” (p.170)

“As we show in our data, not only do new information and communication technologies such as blogging tools fundamentally change the ways in which we write and communicate, they also change how we interact and who we interact with” (p.170, emphases theirs).

Section 2. Methodological issues in researching online texts

Textual analysis – a starting point for exploring blogs, however the authors emphasize the need to understand texts in “the contexts of their conditions of production and reading” (Hodder, 2003, p.156 cited on p.172). As readers decide which links to click on (or not) they design “their own reading path” (the authors cite Kress, 2003). They make an argument for the value of “insider research”defined by Lankshear and Knobel as “research of and by people who are immersed in the use of new media.”

Their study:

  • Data sources: blog design, posts and comments, and the use of multimodal affordances of blogging software;unstructure fieldnotes and analyses were posted to a “metablog” using tags

Section 3. Key themes that emerged from their autoethnography

  1. Publishing the self – “performing identities” – looking at boundaries (often blurred) between personal and professional and considering affective aspects (risk as well as reward). Focused on Holland and her colleagues (1998) notion of “authoring the self.” The authors offer little discussion of “recognition;” such as when Gee talks about positioning oneself to either actively bid for, or leave oneself open for, recognition. The authors place more emphasis on performing and less emphsis on the recognition by self and others.
  2. The nature and fabric of the text – In this section they consider the variety of blogging tools used to construct meaning. Included in this list of tools are the blogroll, hyperlinks, visual layout, archive, tags, site meters, and integration of multimodal elements (such as Flickr images) to signify group memberships and define references to shared understandings.
  3. Social networks. Wellman (2002) describes thes kinds of social networks as glocalized (both local and global). Use of links to help newcomers “catch up” on a conversation – provide a social hisotry. They talked about affinity spaces (Gee, 2004) as places of departure for “networked individualism” (p.193).

Value for Our Work

  • Argument for autoethnography as an approach to studying new media literacies such as blogging. This might be relevant if this is the route we decide to take.
  • Empircal support for the realized benefits/affordances of what I am calling a more “full use” of the blog. The catch is that I haven’t seen such a full use in classrooms (e.g. an audience/readership beyond the class; use of the blogroll to develop social networks with the students; use of tags by students to help them organize their thinking).
  • Their characterization of blogging as a social practice that combines the personal with the professional, the local with the global, and the serious with the frivolous are certainly relevant to what I saw as benefits of Mr. K’s classroom blogging.
  • The paper offers summary of literature support for the transformative power of blogging due to, in part, the multimodality it affords (and encourages).
  • Highlights methdological concerns for studying online discourse such as need for triangulation to establish contexts and the value of “insider research” especially with respect to emerging technologies when both age and academia could seem to make the researcher more distant from the phenomena.
  • Love this quote:

“While blogs can serve a wide range of purposes, the are ultimately the arena through which we communicate about ourselves” (p.176).

What stories do students tell about themselves via their blogging?

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