this is one of those posts…

…in which the blogger notes his/her continued existence, notwithstanding long stretches of silence, and makes excuses to the readership. Like, life continues to be more interesting than the blog, i’m trying to finish a book chapter *about* blogging, and now that I’m past the information-sponge stage of PhD candidature (so I’ve stopped just collecting stuff, for now), and my blog has reached some kind of generic equilibrium and has stopped feeling organic and emergent, I’m a bit at sea as to what it should be *for*….

So, if you’re still reading (and many of you no longer are, judging by my stats logs), what direction should I take with this thing next? What’s most interesting – hearing about the tribulations and/or eureka moments of my phd progress (when there is some)? More lame jokes? More playlists? More bits out of what I’m reading? Feisty in-group arguments with other cultural studies people? I’m stuck, please help.

LifeWork Balance

hello, blog.

I don’t want to sound defensive, because I’m not, but I’m a bit busy with life at the moment, you know, things, and stuff. I’ve been keeping up a bit of socialising for you though, reading other people’s blogs and leaving comments, and I’ve been adding some new del.icio.us links pretty much every day, to keep you company. I know it seems disloyal, but once I’ve finished marking all my students’ blogs I promise to put in some quality time. Hope you understand. And please stop looking at me like that 😉

love
Jean

on having nothing to say

I’ve been in one of my quiet moods lately – plenty to think about and contemplate, but nothing pressing to say. But if you have a blog (and a million emails to answer) it is hard not to feel pressure from the imagined audience or potential respondent to say something, just to mark presence (kind of what I’m doing now, using my favourite cure for writers’ block – writing about why writing seems difficult).

Which got me thinking again, if not talking, about the idea of ‘presence‘ or of ‘becoming real’ as a key element of social communication. Offline, some of the greatest communicators are great not because of their verbosity, but because of the sheer energy and warmth of their presence: online, the only way to mark presence in both the temporal and [meta]physical sense is to talk…and talk, and talk, and talk. For the last few weeks, my students have had to engage in a class discussion via a chatroom, which seemed to encourage the reticent to speak, but by the students’ own admission led to a whole lot of talking without a lot of listening – participation for participation’s sake. Which in turn reminds me of an ongoing worry I have about where and how and for whom the read-and-write (as opposed to read-only or write-only) literacies are going to emerge in new media. Where ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ are not to be taken literally [pardon the pun] but are metaphors for catching and leaving traces of all kinds.

Announcing…BlogHer

Dana Boyd is getting behind BlogHer – “a network for women bloggers to draw on for exposure, education, and community.” As well as organising a day-long conference on July 30, 2005, through establishing an online hub, BlogHer is “initiating an opportunity for greater visibility, learning and success for individual women bloggers and for the community of bloggers as a whole.” An interesting idea, and the excitement around it is totally infectious. Here’s the announcement:

Where are the women bloggers? We’re right here. . . www.blogher.org

BlogHer Conference ’05 to be held July 30, 2005, TechMart Meeting Center, Santa Clara, CA

This flagship event is open to all bloggers�including men and beginners�interested in enhancing their online exposure, learning the latest best practices in blogging, networking with other bloggers, and specifically cultivating the female blogging community.

BlogHer Conference ’05 will provide an open, inclusive forum to:

1. Discuss the role of women within the larger blog community
2. Examine the developing (and debatable) code of blogging ethics
3. Discover how blogging is shrinking the world and amplifying the voices of women worldwide

In addition, educational tracks will be available focusing on:

1. Best technology practices, newbie to advanced: how to use technology and tools to achieve text, photo, audio and video blogging goals
2. Best industry-specific practices: Why are journalists, marketers, lawyers, academics, technologists and many more blogging? And how do you find the ones you’re interested in?
3. The rights and the responsibilities of the blogger

BlogHer Conference ’05 will be the first of its kind, an opportunity for the female blogging community to meet in person. It will set the agenda for future BlogHer networking and enhance women’s influence in the blog community.

The event will include onsite mixers and informal meet-ups for attendees seeking to network in their areas of interest. BlogHer will even set aside a “Room of Your Own” to enable attendees to form impromptu sessions. A pre-event mixer will be held in close proximity to the conference site the evening before. Also, BlogHer will designate space for vendor demonstrations, where bloggers can explore which solutions work best for their needs.

For more information on BlogHer Conference ’05, including lodging options and registration information, visit BlogHer online: www.blogher.org

Friendster+Blogs=[LJ]??

Hmmm, friendster now has blogs, ‘powered’ by TypePad.

Totally irrelevant P.S. for Aus TV fans:

Am just waiting for Lost to come on, so have the last few minutes of My Restaurant Rules to suffer through, and my God – how drunk was Dicko when interviewing the WA Restaurateurs at the end of a wine-soaked meal? Hilarious, wide-eyed “no, really, mum, I’m sober!” stares at the camera and all.

BlogTalk Downunder abstract

Remember, abstracts for BlogTalk Downunder are due on Monday 31 Jan. This is mine, fingers crossed…

Blogging Technologies and the Social Construction of Genre

The web is rife with over-generalised and underexamined discursive constructions of particular blogging platforms, blogging genres, and their users: we are led to believe that LiveJournal users are all teenage girls who pour out their angst onto the screen; Movable Type is for academics and geeks; and so on. But how do these links between particular technologies, the social positioning of users, and textual genres actually work in specific contexts, and what are their broader implications?

This paper seeks to contribute to a critical taxonomy of blogging by exploring the emergent socio-technical construction of blogging genres. The process through which genres emerge is understood as a complex articulation of three sets of phenomena: firstly, the technological affordances and constraints of specific blogging platforms; secondly, the ways in which the discourses around these platforms call specific user communities into being and invite specific forms of literacy, textuality and sociality; and thirdly, the agency of bloggers in shaping these communities. The paper reworks Du Gay et al?s ?circuit of culture? model of cultural studies analysis to compare two of the most distinctive blogging platforms: Movable Type and Live Journal. The analysis demonstrates that there is a complex and recursive relationship between technology, constructions of genre, and the social positioning of users, in each case producing a specific set of social meanings imbricated with clearly identifiable class, age, and gender characteristics. The paper concludes by speculating on the ways in which this approach to the emergence of blogging genres might provide the basis for further interventions in debates around the perceived value of particular kinds of blogs and the unequal distribution of power that is connected to such value judgements.

Media Convergence in the Blogosphere

SixApart (developers of Movable Type) have bought LiveJournal. What’s next, Google buys SixApart and Flickr?

But as I’m just about finished knocking out an abstract for BlogTalk Downunder on blogging technologies and the co-construction of genre, what interests me is the possible impact that SixApart’s need to clearly differentiate their products might have on blogging practice at the grassroots, eg:

We have a service intended for individuals to interact with family and friends through LiveJournal; a hosted service for avid webloggers who want more flexibility and power with TypePad; and the leading server-based solution for power users, corporations and institutions through Movable Type

A nice, neat example of the ways a highly gendered continuum of technological mastery gets mapped on to the construction of economic value (‘mere’ communication with friends and family is always low-end, witness advertisements for a whole range of digital products, from cameras to PCs). Nifty.

Some very good reflection on the cultural and technological differences between the two platforms from Danah Boyd.