I came a little late to this next session at AoIR 2005 - we've already started a presentation on photoblogging by Eric Meyer, Howard Rosenbaum, and Noriko Hara from Indiana University.
The purists' definition of photoblogging is as chronological blogging using photos; photoblogs.org distinguishes clearly between photoblogs and galleries, but in practice that division isn't as clear: various approaches to Flickr use, for example, blur the line. Some people do use Flickr as a kind of photoblogging, which also enables tagging and commenting on photos, for example.
Various frames can be applied to a study of photoblogging. There is a media frame, to begin with, analysing how photoblogging is discussed in the mainstream media, and it is certainly clear that the discussion of the idea of photoblogging has grown over time. At the same time, the photoblogger frame analyses the way that photobloggers themselves talk about their practice, but the analysis of this is more complicated as photobloggers tend not to talk abut their practices quite as much as do the mainstream media. However, it is interesting to note that of the topics that are addressed some 26% concern issues around ethics and values; further, a combined total of 57% of postings discuss service issues, off topic issues, and photostreams. Another important topic are social networks (some 32% of postings on photoblogs.org, some 12% on Flickr are about this topic).
The team conducted a content analysis of such discussions, using a subset of sites on photoblogs.org and Flickr (comparing randomly selected sites with the top 10 sites, or the top 10 photos in Flickr). These were coded for type, gender, location, and other factors: findings include that 66% were 'photography as hobby' sites (rather than mere snapshots), 61% were by male users, 36% were from North America, 39% of users reported their full name, 77% of sites had photo archives, 64% allowed comments (this was less the case for the top sites).
Further coding was for rate of posting, and there were differences between photoblogs.org and Flickr: Flickr users tended to post more often. Further, top blogs had existed for longer (which is hardly surprising). Interestingly, too, it seemed that top sites over time increased their number of monthly postings over time, while random sites tended to drop off over time. This might mean that there are some very different trends for casual users as opposed to enthusiast photographers. And finally, it is also interesting that in Photoblogs, some 28% of the randomly selected sites were snapshot sites, while all of the top sites were artistic; on Flickr, all of the top sites were also artistic, but some 64% of the random sample were snapshot sites. This points to very different usage patterns of these services.
Minsun Shim from the University of Pennsylvania is next, presenting a case study of photoblogging in the Korean Cyworld blogging service that is co-authored with Min Ju Lee from Seoul National University. Minsun notes that especially the visual aspects of blogging have so far been understudied; this study, then, is especially concerned with the social aspects of photoblogging. A trend to social interaction using blogs is especially common in South Korea, in fact, for cultural reasons.
Photoblogging is a form of socio-communicative interaction, and new media use is influenced by personality or trait; a key factor in this is socio-communicative orientation (SCO), including trait-like communication styles, assertiveness (ability to stand up for oneself) and responsiveness (sensitivity to others) in communicative situations). This study focussed especially on the Cyworld service in South Korea, which is the major blogging provider in the country. (Cyworld content is organised somewhat differently from other blog services.) The assumption was that photoblogging would be positively associated with both assertiveness and responsiveness, and this was tested through a study of 300 undergraduates (67% male) at a Seoul university, analysing their habits in using Cyworld and their own and other people's blogs.
Patterns found include: 87% of the sample published and maintained their own blogs; 77% used their Cyworld blogs; bloggers photoblogged more often than textblogged; 79% had concerns about the photos posted on other people's blogs rather than text messages. Most people posted photos (I order of importance) to share memories with others, to record their daily lives, because posting photos rather than text was seen to be easier, and because others did so. The most frequently posted photos were of groups including the blogger, then of their own photo as taken by others, and photos of others. responsiveness was a greater factor in photoblogging behaviour than assertiveness, and motivations of responsive users included sharing memories and recent news with others and to express personality; they also tended to post more photos of themselves (as taken by others, as taken by themselves, and of groups including themselves). Assertive users replied more to others' comments on photos, and were motivated mainly by expressing their personality (the photos were also more often photos of themselves, taken by themselves).
I'm afraid that my batteries ran out before the next speaker - Katrina Jungnickel presented on her work with the 73 Urban Journeys project, which comes out of a larger research project within INCITE at the University of Surrey that Nina Wakeford also addressed in her keynote speech at the AoIR conference in Sussex last year. Some very interesting ways of documenting lived experience around the 73 bus route in London, and a great way of using her blog both for documenting the research and for publishing many of the creative works emerging around the project. Check her Website for more information!