diamond geezer

 Thursday, July 22, 2004

I blog therefore I am

Blogging is getting serious. It's not just a bunch of people publishing their thoughts online as part of a hobby-type activity thing, oh no. It's a bunch of people publishing their thoughts online and being analysed by academics, oh yes. Blogging must be at least semi-important now because it's become the subject of research.

Last Saturday a big conference was held at the University of London, an austere seat of learning tucked in between Russell Square and the British Museum. The Literary London Conference investigated, amongst other things, "the changing cultural and historical geography of London" and "how the pluralism of London literature is reflected in London society". I'm sure you've all discussed these weighty issues down the pub recently. These topics were properly dissected by fellow blogger James Blogwell (aka Ralph) who delivered a fine paper to the conference entitled "London Blogging: Weblog Culture and Urban Lives". You can read a copy here. And here's a brief extract:
The notion of a community is important in considering the overall significance of London weblogs. I’d like to suggest that the typical interconnectedness of weblogs make them particularly appropriate as a form to the complex communal space of the contemporary city. London, as a multicultural, global city, linked in ever more complicated ways with the world outside as it is linked internally, demands media that can offer their own congruent forms of interconnectivity. Any weblog, being part of a virtual network of websites, including other weblogs, offers distinct advantages as a form of representating and mediating London as itself a kind of network society.
Ralph argues that London weblogs are a dynamic new way of representing the city, reshaping traditional notions of 'literary London'. He contends that London weblogs are "able to represent London itself as process: a city continually changing, a city in flux." And he uses a small selection of London blogs to illustrate his hypothesis, including this one. I'm honoured. As are Jag, Lisa and Tom. Apparently we each participate in "what one critic has called ‘electronic flânerie’— cruising the city (as well as the internet) like a flâneur, in search of novelty and edification." I plead guilty. Cheers Ralph.

Like all good academics Ralph also quotes from other researchers. He refers to one recent study which considers the reasons why bloggers blog in the first place. So, dear reader, which of the following five categories best represents your motivation for blogging? Your reply doesn't have to be 8000 words long with full bibliography. I think I'm a 2 with a bit of 4 myself.
    1) Life-documentation
    2) Commentary (on environment, news, media, internet, etc)
    3) Catharsis (or the purging of negative feelings)
    4) Thinking by writing (using a weblog as a thinking tool)
    5) Construction of community (many weblogs allow the sharing of help, support, and friendship from known and unknown readers)

Select academic works
• Parfect, Ralph, 'London Blogging: Weblog Culture and Urban Lives'
• Blood, Rebecca, 'Weblogs: a history and perspective'
• Nardi, Bonnie A. et al, '"I'm blogging this": A Closer Look at Why People Blog'
• Herring, Susan C. et al, 'Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs'
• Geezer, Diamond, 'London Geezer'

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