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Blogs and Blogging

Mapping Online Publics in Australia

My own paper (with Jean Burgess, Thomas Nicolai, and Lars Kirchhoff) starts the final session of this second day at AoIR 2010. Below is the Powerpoint, and I’ll try to add the audio some time soon the audio is online now, too.

Examining the Relationship between Political Bloggers and the Mainstream Media

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is my brilliant PhD student Tim Highfield, whose interest is in what contribution blogging (by a wide variety of bloggers concerned with politics, the news, current events, and the reflection of such topics in specific fields of interest) makes to the overall mediasphere. Such bloggers may have a variety of points of focus, and while the ‘informing’ role of blogs has been stressed in the literature, this may not be their only function.

There is also an underlying question of how bloggers and journalists interrelate with one another – whether they are complementary to one another, whether the wider blogosphere provides a broader background discussion to mainstream media coverage, whether bloggers can act as gatewatchers highlighting and critiquing specific themes in the media. This positions bloggers as a second tier of the media, in the way that Herbert Gans foresaw such a second tier that feeds on and reanalyses first-tier media coverage. Against this stands the sort of rhetoric around blogs as a mere echo chamber which Andrew Keen has built his career around. There is some indication that blogs link to mainstream media content more than to other blogs – as a source of information, to critique the content, or to refer to specific sections on the mainstream media page (such as comments), too.

Why (Belgian) Journalists Blog

Oops, got into the next AoIR 2010 session a little late (why are the coffee breaks so short?), and Mathieu Simonson is already in full flight. This is a paper on motivations for blogging, which engaged in interviews with journalist-bloggers to examine why they were blogging.

Digital Flaneurism in Photoblogs

The final speaker in this ECREA 2010 session is Ilija Tomanić, whose focus is on vernacular photography and digital flâneurism on Web 2.0. His specific interest is in photoblogs as a particular strand of amateur photography. There is traditionally a stratification of photography into ‘high’ and ‘low’, semi-professional and purely amateur uses, and each side comes with its own implicit and explicit rules and practices.

With digitalisation of photography and the move to Web 2.0, there has been a spread of higher-end photography know-how, and a shift away from the photographic auteur to a primacy of the image. The territory for photography has also been opened up; it has become more global in its reach, and amateur photography has migrated from the private to the public sphere. It is no longer only about the preservation of memories, but also about the construction of presence/the present, with a shift towards a more documentary style (fewer posed photographs).

#ausvotes Twitter Activity during the 2010 Australian Election

My own paper was next at ECREA 2010. Here’s the presentation – and I also recorded the audio for it, and will add it as soon as I can which is now attached to the slides. As it turned out, one of the other presenters in the session also broadcast the whole event to Justin.tvso go there to see it all in action (my presentation starts around 52 minutes in, and you can also see the other papers on our panel)…

Understanding Media Watchdog Blogs

The second speaker in this session at ECREA 2010 is Tobias Eberwein, whose interest is in media watchdog blogs. This is part of a larger pan-European/Arab research project, MediaACT (media accountability and transparency), which is engaging in comparative research across 13 nations.

Media accountability means a number of things, but can be summed up as any non-state means of making media responsible to the public. This may include press councils, ombudspersons, media journalism, blogs, social network commentary, entertainment formats (like news critique shows), and others; some of these are institutionalised (and some of those are facing various institutional crises), while some operate from the grassroots but nonetheless can have significant impact.

Surveying Online Political Participation in the Netherlands

The last day at ECREA 2010 starts with a paper by Tom Bakker, whose interest is in mapping participation in citizen media activities in the Netherlands. He notes that participation in social media still appears to be growing strongly overall – and these shifts in the media ecology necessarily bring about some significant changes. The potential for such change has been highlighted for journalism (gatekeeping is said to be declining, agenda setting, news values, standards, and ethics are shifting, and diversity is increasing), as well as for the wider public sphere (thought to be more inclusive, active, deliberative, with more political discourse that is more representative of public opinion).

The present study tested this in a large-scale study in the Netherlands. It surveyed some 2130 people over 13 years of age during December 2009. One question asked in this context was whether people were reading comments: some 55% never did, the rest read them at various levels of intensity. 75% never read political comments, 83% never posted comments, and 94% never posted political comments online.

Key Events in Australian (Micro-)Blogging during 2010 (ECREA 2010)

ECREA 2010

Key Events in Australian (Micro-)Blogging during 2010

Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Thomas Nicolai, and Lars Kirchhoff

  • 15 Oct. 2010 – 3rd European Communications Conference (ECREA 2010)

(This was the original abstract, but our coverage was overtaken by political events...)

Political Engagement in Local Swedish Referenda

The next session at ECREA 2010 starts with Elisabeth Stúr, whose interest is in the mediated debates in the lead-up to a referendum in a small community in Sweden about the extension of a hydroelectric power scheme. In this case, public opinion was communicated both through old and new media, as well as through public meetings, raising the question to what extent political debates moved to new media platforms.

Tracing Publics in the Australian Blogosphere: New Methods for International Communication Research (DGMS 2010)

DGMS 2010 (ECREA 2010 Pre-Conference)

Tracing Publics in the Australian Blogosphere: New Methods for International Communication Research

Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Lars Kirchhoff, and Thomas Nicolai

  • 12 Oct. 2010 – Doing Global Media Studies (ECREA 2010 Pre-Conference)

In recent years, a number of studies have developed more or less comprehensive maps of a range of national blogospheres: Adamic & Glance (2005) mapped the US political blogosphere against the backdrop of the 2004 presidential election campaigns, Kelly & Etling (2009) mapped the Iranian blogosphere, Linkfluence (2009) mapped the intersections between political bloggers in a number of major European countries in the lead-up to the EU parliament elections. A common feature of these studies was that they presented momentary snapshots of these blogospheres, and often focussed largely on explicitly political blogs. Moving beyond such limitations, it would be interesting to see, for example, how the Iranian blogosphere might have changed in the wake of the bloody conflicts following the country's disputed presidential elections, or how significant a role the discussion of EU politics might have assumed within the space of the overall blogospheres in various European nations.


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