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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

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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 or 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> </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you for coming! </li></ul>