Lifelogging: Visions of absent audiences

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How do personal webloggers understand their audiences? And what do they want from the people who read their work? This presentation - made at the ICA conference in Singapore - is based on in-depth interviews with 23 UK-based bloggers. More detail can be found in my PhD thesis which is available at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/25535/

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Lifelogging: Visions of absent audiences

  1. 1. Lifelogging: visions of absent audiences ICA Singapore, 2010 David Brake With the support of the Mediatized Stories Network http://www.le.ac.uk/mc/ or http://davidbrake.org/ Department of Media and Communications
  2. 2. Simple blogging communication model
  3. 3. Theory & RQs <ul><li>Used symbolic interaction (esp. Goffman) to focus on how meaning of communicative situation is constructed </li></ul><ul><li>What do bloggers know of their audiences? </li></ul><ul><li>What relationship do they seek with these audiences? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Methodology <ul><li>Google search for London-based personal weblogs </li></ul><ul><li>Email survey (N=150) to get demographics and invite for interview </li></ul><ul><li>Face to face semi-structured interviews with stratified sample of 23 bloggers </li></ul><ul><li>Thematic analysis of interview transcripts </li></ul>
  5. 5. Findings: Knowing the audience <ul><li>Considerable potential for producer knowledge - through active feedback and passive collection </li></ul>30 June 2010 David Brake <ul><li>But knowledge seldom sought – why? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Partly lack of interest <ul><li>1 /3 of survey respondents used tracking software on their weblogs, 1/3 of these looked at it monthly or less </li></ul><ul><li>“ I did have a hit counter because I was intrigued to see whether anyone was reading and I was horrified to find that pretty much nobody was”. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think I used to have one but it's not that interesting. It's just numbers.” </li></ul>30 June 2010 David Brake
  7. 7. Partly (seeming) wilful ignorance/self-deception <ul><li>“ I put things on my blog but I don't think of anybody reading it. Someone will say, &quot;what the hell did you write that for?&quot; and I'll say &quot;oh yeah - sorry&quot;. I just don't put two and two together - it's a slight form of insanity I suppose.” </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Elaine’ – a journalist who had written in a magazine about starting her blog </li></ul>30 June 2010 David Brake
  8. 8. Audience relationships
  9. 9. Self-directed <ul><li>Creative expression </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All the way through Uni I got firsts for anything that involved writing anything… the blog came along and I thought ‘this is a great opportunity for me to actually do more writing’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quasi-therapy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If someone pissed me off or annoyed me - generally if I put it down it didn’t annoy me any more. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tool use as an end in itself/habit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I just throw myself into something – get really really involved. It’s great – it gives you a role and something to get your teeth into - so you keep your antennae out for new trends on the web and weblogs was a big trend </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. The temporal dimension <ul><li>There was a guy advertising a LiveAid ticket for free as long as he came and stayed… I said ‘read my blog to see if you want to do it’ so he read my entire blog. The entire thing. Really creeps me out... I didn’t really think anyone would pay that much attention to go all the way back through it and really really read it. </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t think anyone would scroll back and read it all </li></ul><ul><li>I think my fingers don’t post if I can’t stand by it. I may live to regret that sometime. </li></ul><ul><li>Weblogs might be an interesting reflection of our society in the future. Maybe for a social historian. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Revised blogging model
  12. 12. Limitations of study <ul><li>Respondents all urban, UK-based </li></ul><ul><li>Sample of 23 not large enough to reveal systematic differences in audience relations by socio-demographic categories </li></ul><ul><li>Sample chosen to include only those currently revealing personal information publicly </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear how applicable findings are to other ‘social media’ eg those with privacy controls </li></ul>
  13. 13. Further Questions? Comments? <ul><li>Contact details: </li></ul><ul><li>David Brake </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>http://davidbrake.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you for coming! </li></ul>

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