Monday, May 5, 2008
Blogging communities... for real?
I read a couple of the articles about blogs and whether or not they could play the part of a virtual community, if they could offer the same benefits as a Real community. The technical research terms such as "sense of community" and "community space" and the statistical analysis the author/researchers do after surveying bloggers and people who leave comments are all very interesting, but I am not convinced this approach can truly answer the question of whether or not blogs serve as a community. So I decided to do my own, more qualitative research; I read lots of blogs and lots of comments in order to form my own opinion. Contrary to my initial (pre-research) opinion, I believe that blogs can indeed offer a sense of community for people who regularly post blogs and who regularly read blogs. As one who was reading many of the entries, most of which were obviously a continuation of previous thoughts and stories and others which directly addressed comments, I felt outside of the community. I did not "know" the blogger Dooce's dog Chuck or husband Jon or child Lita; nor did I know the background between the Londoner's "Twat" boyfriend. But I had the sense, from the comments written and the acknowledgement of their respective readers' comments, that I was stepping into a virtual community. I think that to be a part of a community like this, it is imperative to interact with others in the community, either by posting comments, emailing or writing one's own blog - participation as a form of communication, right? As I read various different comments, some of the posters seemed rather intimate with the blogger, referring to them in an informal manner, supporting them, offering advice and referencing past blogs (perhaps proving their dedication to a blog). On some of the well-established blogs, there were links to "about this site" or "about me," which made it easy to learn about the bloggers' backgrounds, and perhaps a portal to enter into their community. So yes, numbers and statistics are all very good and well to "prove" community, but my own search into blogs was both informative and amusing. I am still playing with the idea of starting my own blog... hmmm..