[Air-L] New PhD thesis on personal blogging released w Creative Commons license

David Brake d.r.brake at lse.ac.uk
Thu Jan 14 03:14:04 PST 2010

I am pleased to announce that my thesis, ‘As if nobody’s reading’?: Imagined contexts and socio-technical biases in personal blogging practice in the UK is one of the first to be published in the LSE's document repository here: http://bit.ly/8MBZBT and is (to the best of my knowledge) the first LSE thesis to be published using a creative commons (BY-NC) - something that required a certain amount of prodding of the relevant degree-granting authorities.

The full abstract follows below - I hope those of you interested in one or more of blogging, privacy, interpersonal interaction using computer mediated communication and the social construction of technology will find it useful and I would welcome comments and thoughts.

> This thesis examines the understandings and meanings of personal blogging from the perspective of blog authors. The theoretical framework draws on a symbolic interactionist perspective, focusing on how meaning is constructed through blogging practices, supplemented by theories of mediation and critical technology studies.
> The principal evidence in this study is derived from an analysis of in-depth interviews with bloggers selected to maximise their diversity based on the results of an initial survey. This is supplemented by an analysis of personal blogging’s technical contexts and of various societal influences that appear to influence blogging practices.
> Bloggers were found to have limited interest in gathering information about their readers, appearing to rely instead on an assumption that readers are sympathetic. Although personal blogging practices have been framed as being a form of radically free expression, they were also shown to be subject to potential biases including social norms and the technical characteristics of blogging services. Blogs provide a persistent record of a blogger’s practice, but the bloggers in this study did not generally read their archives or expect others to do so, nor did they retrospectively edit their archives to maintain a consistent self-presentation.
> The empirical results provide a basis for developing a theoretical perspective to account for blogging practices. This emphasises firstly that a blogger’s construction of the meaning of their practice can be based as much on an imagined and desired social context as it is on an informed and reflexive understanding of the communicative situation. Secondly, blogging practices include a variety of envisaged audience relationships, and some blogging practices appear to be primarily self-directed with potential audiences playing a marginal role. Blogging’s technical characteristics and the social norms surrounding blogging practices appear to enable and reinforce this unanticipated lack of engagement with audiences.
> This perspective contrasts with studies of computer mediated communication that suggest bloggers would monitor their audiences and present themselves strategically to ensure interactions are successful in their terms. The study also points the way towards several avenues for further research including a more in-depth consideration of the neglected structural factors (both social and technical) which potentially influence blogging practices, and an examination of social network site use practices using a similar analytical approach.

David Brake (http://davidbrake.org/) Lecturer, Media & Communications, U of Leicester http://www.le.ac.uk/mc/

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