Friday, January 12, 2007

Blogging... about Blogging. Woah!

So I just finished reading "Threaded Identity in Cyberspace: Weblogs & Positioning in the Dialogical Self" (2004) by Vincent W. Hevern. It got me thinking about the "selling of self" to in the eye of the online reader (in terms of Lears), which I've been thinking about a lot lately. The part that reminded me most of this was on page 331 when he said: "The decision to publish a Weblog engages a blogger actively in an array of self-presentation strategies within the public environment of cyberspace." Well, if that's not an attempt to sell yourself, I don't know what is. But then, he goes on to say that:
"Weblogs are inherantly public and the posting of items on a blog is a social act of positioning that, minimally, bids
readers to encounter some aspect of that self that fashioned the item. Unlike other media, the use of hypertext links in
Weblogs also invites the reader to assume the perspective of the author by experiencing what the author experienced at
that link. Weblogs usually provide avenues by which readers can further the encounter by entering into explicit
conversation with the author."
The author is displaying the self, but he/she has control of what they display and use it in a way to share their world with their readers, to enlighten them to their ides and positions. That sounds a lot more empowering than the sale of self to the Other.

"The blogger crafts and preserves in and across time multiple positions, both internal and external to the self. These positions demonstrably evolve, shift focus, and interact with other positions in the rhythm of the author's life as chronicled daily." (p 331) The author leads the reader into their experience in a way representative of how they experience it, especially since the author can use HTML to include images and links (even color and sound) into their representation. He quotes David Weinberger as saying that "the Web is an unnatural world, one which we have built for ourselves". So I think I probably ought to check out David Weinberger. I also think that blogs are a powerful tool in self expression in this "world" we created.

The blog tool I want to focus on in my Div 3 is LiveJournal, "LJ"s, as they are sometimes called, tend to be a bit more personal than other blogs. And someday I even plan to have statistics to back this claim up. Hevern's article gives me a great way to define what I call personal blog posts and what he (probably more precisely) describes as "Self Focused" (p. 327). He lists three kinds of "Self Focused" posts:
- the "self-description list": He uses an example such as "100 things about [Author's Name]", but I think this encompasses surveys and memes... which will also need describing in my final paper.

-the "diary-like narrative": Basically describing the author describing what he/she did during their day. What they ate for lunch, an interaction with a friend, what they did after work.

-the "diary-like self-colloquy": This is where the author writes as if talking to her/himself aloud, reflecting on things, discussing their thoughts.

Hevern also talks about "the social encounter of individuals who find the activities of others online meaningful" which I am completely taking out-of-context because his wording made me wonder "Well, what makes one blog author's activities meaningful to others?" This could connect back to sale of self. Networking and connecting with others using the "comment" section of blogs (another thing I need to clearly define when talking about blogs/LiveJournal) is one way to do this, or at least to direct readers to your blog. This lead me to remember a blog I read in high school on a site called OpenDiary, written by a guy with the pseudonym of TheOmnipotentRodge. I think I found this blog from a comment on one of my own blog entries, from Rodge himself. He was very good about interacting with other bloggers, especially the ones who read his blog. And the way he wrote was fascinating. He could draw the reader in and make menial activities into something, well, meaningful. He played the guitar in a band, and often titled his posts with references to songs such as "Shine on, You Crazy Diamond". His presentation of himself was great, but the main hook of his blog was that he was an exceptional writer, which seems much less about consumption of someone's identity and more about the authors skill at storytelling. But, to be honest, I'm not sure what final conclusion to draw from this.

I also enjoyed the fact that Hevern talked about the Weblog of Wil Wheaton, the actor who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Wheaton talks about his life, often in light of his character on Star Trek, and Hevern goes on to say that, "by using cyberspace to reveal selected aspects of his daily life, Wheaton offers the public a kind of intimacy that would not be possible in person." (p. 330) While I may be reading too far into this, this seems to connect to my post on MySpace and Project Runway. Fans of these shows don't have a way to connect with the stars in person, so a blog or MySpace does create "a kind of intimacy" so that the fans feel closer to the stars and the show.

That's what I've go for now, I'll post after the next good article I read. Tell me what you think!

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