The Examined Blog: Contemplating Roles in the Blogosphere
Hang on to your hats, folks, we’re about to get all meta up on this shit.
This semester, the lovely Alicia and Kate took a deep ethnographic dive into the blogosphere. As flatmate, friend, sharer of memory foam mattress goodness, I got a firsthand look at their project as it developed. If you want a peek at it from their perspective, check out the Blographers Blog.
What they discovered through the course of their project is that online interactions fall on a spectrum: from the consumption of content to the production of content. People fall into roles within this spectrum: producers, pointers, and absorbers. Producers are on the far end of the production spectrum, meaning that they are the ones generating content. Pointers fall in the middle of the consumption spectrum–these are people who are consuming the content created by producers, but also pointing other people to that content. They are the aggregates of content, the filters on the glut of information on the internet. They can point you to the good stuff, essentially. Absorbers are at the far end of the consumption spectrum–they are those folks who are out there, reading your content.
It is, of course, rare for one person to take only one of these roles. Most people do a lot of one and a little of the others. Alicia and Kate also found that bloggers who were producing a lot also tended to consume a lot.
For a full rundown of their results, check out their shiny and amazing video podcast.
I am almost exclusively a producer. I started to blog because I most enjoy writing for an audience, whether real (as you are now) or imaginary (as it was when I began). It was a way to keep me from being crushed by the weight of my own thoughts, and to create a persistent record of my life. I produce content, in large part, to get it out of my own heard, as a method of organizing and dealing with life, the universe, and everything.
I am not even the kind of producer who consumes a lot of content in addition to producing it. I have great aspirations of becoming such a producer, but my lifestyle at the moment is barely conducive to living so we’re taking it one step at a time.
I am also not really a pointer. I noticed this first on Twitter: many of the people I follow are linking to other people or other content in every tweet. I use Twitter almost exclusively to make my running internal monologue inappropriately public; it is a way to feel less alone inside my head. I do point on an individual level. If I find interesting things in the world at large and know of someone who will particularly enjoy them, I will email that person the link. When I do point on a collective scale (such as by tweeting a link or posting a link on my blog, which I am doing today, pointing you off to Alicia and Kate’s content), it is generally to someone or something that I am somehow connected to. I don’t really know why I am not a pointer. I enjoy when people direct me to things that are interesting, after all. However, the blogs and things that I do read are much in the flavor of my own–women out there producing interesting and thought-provoking content. (I just realized that all the blogs I follow regularly are produced by women. Neat!)
Lately, you may have noticed that I have been falling down even on my content-production job. My sincerest apologies: I am purportedly “on holiday”, but this holiday has seemed to include almost as much work as the “not on holiday” parts of my semester.
Because of this recent deficit, I have decided to take a more examined approach to blogging. I am considering, for instance, putting myself on a blogging schedule, and posting on the same days every week. I am also considering becoming more of a pointer, and sharing with you more of the things that I find neat. This would not take the place of my regular content, since I don’t really consider pointing to be content.
I would love your thoughts while I am contemplating all of this. What days do you most want updates for? (I always find myself endlessly refreshing sites on Sundays, the day that no one seems to post things.) What kinds of things do you look for from a blog? What kinds of things do you want from this blog?