Personal Blogs and Social Shaping: A Qualitative Approach
Personal blogs and social
shaping: a qualitative approach
UNIVERSITÀ CATTOLICA DEL SACRO CUORE
@WARM: Workshop on Advanced Research Methods –
Università “Carlo BO” - Urbino
30th September 2010
Blogs as User Generated Contents
What are blogs?
Online organized in stream of
personal a news feed in
diaries chronological chronological
reverse order reverse order
1997 1999 2003 2004 2006 2008 2010
First blogs First blogs Splinder Facebook Google buys Facebook August:
in USA in Italy MySpace Blogger success in Facebook is
Hi5 Italy the most
Investigate the microsocial processes of blog appropriation focus on bloggers (blog owners).
Understand blogs developement in Italy.
Qualitative approach, focused on the context of use (Mason, 1996).
Importance of following users in their practices to understand their “personal economies
of meaning” (Silverstone - Hirsch 1992).
Mix of different methodologies, integrated and not “balkanized” (Lievrouw – Livingstone,
Focus onpersonal blogs.
No triangulation of methodologies (Cardano, 2003) but multi-sited approach (Marcus, 1995).
Field of research as a “field of relations” (Hine, 2000).
Researched as a bricoleur (Denzin – Lincoln, 2000).
Continuous comparison between hypothesis and data hermeneutic approach and Grounded Theory
(Glaser, Strauss, 1967).
Blog desk Participant
(1) Explorative research follow the “biography of the object”
(Kopytoff 1992) in USA and Italy
Culural product as a key for a firts interpretation (Griswold, 1994; Colombo, 2001, 2003
Articles, essays, books, blogs with blogs history in USA and Italy
Identification of three phases in Italian blogsphere (now updating):
2000: Early blogger
2003: Creation of Splinder
2006: Google buys Blogger
Need to meet blogger and their practices
(2) Participant observation at three blogger events:
VlogEurope, Milan, 18th-19th November 2006
PiùBlog, Rome, 8th-10th December
RomeCamp, Rome, 21° January 2007
Enter the field (Hine 2000; Roversi 2001)
(3) 26 Semi-structured interviews (12
females e 14 males)
Snowball and theoretical
Privileged instrument for exploring microsocial field of
blog incorporation into daily practices (Silverstone sampling;
1992) and its “subjective meaning” (Roversi 2001) both Three cities (Milan, Rome;
at a material and symbolic level.
Exploration of feelings, perceptions, and images of blog
use (also done with the request of drawing their own’s Divided into the three
blog image) phases;
(4) 50 Blog analysis (26 males and 24
Textual analysis with a semiotic grid (Cosenza 20062)
A double structure (Cfr. Hine 2000):
Context of communication
Strong interaction between
Blog as a “boundary object” (Star - Griesemer 1989)
Blogger as a “processor” able to convert a technological infrastructure in
social and cultural values (Silverstone - Hirsch 1994)
Social Shaping of Technology as a theoretical framework for
comprehending the results.
MacKenzie e Wajcman 1988
Bijker et al. 1989
Fulk 1993; Schneider 2000
Blog as a “configurational
technology” (Fleck 1988):
Its elements are shaped in the context of use
Interpretive flexibility (Williams – Edge 1996)
User as prosumer (Toffler 1987):
Consume and active production of contents
Horizontal (peer to peer)
Vertical (groups; “opinion leaders”; experts)
Early blogger and relevant social groups
Relevant institutional subjects
Importance of imagination in
technology adoption and use
Going further: social networks
Two qualitative research on social networks:
Qualitative analysis (ethnography) of 6 profiles (3 male; 3 females) of
social networks profiles of social media heavy users (Facebook, Twitter,
FriendFeed + blog)
50 telephonic interviews to young adults (19-15 years old) about new
media appropriation (mobile phone, IM, SN, blog) + social network
profiles analysis (cfr. www.testimonidigitali.it and Giaccardi 2010
Social networks are similar to blogs:
Open (although less flexible in some case) structure;
Need of user to close it;
Role of the institutional subjects in the space definition;
Relevance of the year of adoption on the meaning attributed to the
Blog and social networks as both objects and
instruments of research
Becoming “friend” of the panel (?)
Contextualization of profiles and contents
Focus on subjects
Mix different methods of research “Multimodal methodology”
What about the relationship between blogs and social
networks and blogs and mainstream media?
4° stage of development?
Thanks for your attention
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