Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thinking About The Blogosphere

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Garden conversations.
photo by Mike Wood.

I’ve been thinking about the blogosphere lately.

It’s been 22 days since Google Analytics became live on my blog. During that time, 269 visitors have made 376 visits and posted 24 comments. Though I can’t understand all what it’s saying, it prompts me to think about the scores of people who visit my blog every week. To me they have become living beings, not just texts at the foot of posts or numbers in the comment tally.

They have likes and dislikes
off days and on days opinions that aren’t always aligned with my own – ideas that make me think again about what I said – suggestions that provide answers to some of my questions. They are often friendly and supportive, and rarely rude and disruptive. They can be sullen and not say a word - for days.

How much like the living frame is the presence of a blogger in the blogosphere? What character and what personality does a blogger portray when blogging? If you had never seen a blogger or even a photograph, would you be able to recognise them if you met them in person?

If you felt you knew their personality through blogging would the image of the personality you met be the same as how they come across if you met and spoke with them face to face?

Can you see a smile in a comment (emoticons aside)? Can you tell when a person is frustrated – perhaps with you, when you read their comments? Do you sometimes get the impression that some people shout at you when they comment, while others talk quietly and take you into their confidence? Is it possible to whisper in a comment? Even if others would hear it?

Actors learn quickly that audiences have personalities of their own. The arena is always greater than the sum of its parts. Do the people who make up a blogger's commentsphere portray a character back to the blogger that’s in any way like the personality of an audience? Or are they more like a class of school kids? Are they perhaps like people you meet daily at work or at the bus stop or on the train or at the supermarket or on social occasions?

How much could you trust someone you chatted with and built a relationship with through blogging? Is it possible to build your trust in someone in the blogosphere so that you can rely on them in the future? How much would you trust someone in the blogosphere if you felt you knew them well?

Do you see what I mean when I say I’ve been thinking about the blogosphere lately?

( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) ( 5 ) << - related posts - >> ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later


V Yonkers said...

Ken, I have yet to figure out how to use google analytics, but I do use Statscounter. The advantage is that now I know there are actually people out there reading what I write. However, with statscounter, I can also figure out where they came from (both what brought them to my site and where they are located).

Interestingly enough, I don't think I have a very unique blog as it appears there are many who are interested in culture, international business and communication, and education. But I was surprised a few months back when Tony Karrer seemed to think my blog was specialized in some way. So like you, I was interested in what the readers' perceptions are to my writing (as obviously what I though I was projecting was different than what some of the readers were interpreting).

In terms of creating trust, etc... through blogs, this really is no different than online courses without any face to face contact. Over the years of my program, I have met both classmates and students face to face after meeting "online". It is always interesting to meet them face to face as they are different than their online presence.

I discovered this semester, that some people will never feel comfortable without the face to face interaction while others have no problems making the connection thousands of miles away. Some people are more comfortable with verbal communication, while others are comfortable with written. I follow a blog in written in French by Guy Boulet, but years of French teachers telling me how inferior my written French is, I still have not had the courage to post something on his blog yet.

If you are able to do so with Google analytics, I would monitor when people tend to read your blog (Monday seems to be a banner day for me), how many are returning readers (indicating they are part of the RSS feeds), what connects them to your page (lately, I have had some connected through google search and more exciting, they seem to be researching the areas I am researching), and where they are located. I also have gone back to the linking page and have found some good blogs that way. I feel as if I am now developing a nice group of blogs (see my blog roll) where we are discussing things through our network.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Virginia!

GA likewise can pin-point where visitors are located on the globe and what site brought them to my posts. This is how I was able to do my previous analysis on visitors from one particular post on a blog site.

I agree with Tony that your blog is
specialised but I also find that is a feature of the posts of most edubloggers.

Your parallel about online courses and creating trust is a good one and I agree with you on this.

Thanks for the tips on watching the times. So far I haven't found a pattern with that, but there's time enough yet. I've only just started monitoring and haven't built up enough of my commentsphere yet to be more sure of what's significant about a blip in a stats graph and what's not. I'll be watching out for that.

C'est la vie about la Française, Virginia! Your French can't be worse than mine!

Ka kite

diane said...


I love Google Analytics: I'm fascinated by the traffic on my blog and readers' choices of which posting to access.

Re. personality, I believe that my writing and the images I select do paint an accurate picture of who I am.

I am careful to use a reasonably "accurate" icon, because in my mind I will one day meet my online friends and colleagues - as I did at NECC08 - and I want to as be recognizable f2f as I am virtually.

The online world is a relatively new environment for me. I revel in the opportunity to share my thoughts, make connection, and extend my understanding of the possibilities of life in this new millennium.

And how else would I have met you '-)

Ken Stewart said...

Very interesting thoughts. I am always interested in seeing what conclusions new bloggers come to. Being only a few months ahead of you in the blogging world, I can appreciate the learning curve it takes to "ramp up".

Relationships are a strange thing, especially online. Most people present who they are via their writing and posting, that is why they have come to the online community - to express themselves.

However, there are those out there that keep their true selves hidden, and enjoy the role playing. I have not become prominent enough, nor would I like to, in order to attract what most refer to as the 'trolls' and 'haters'.

As I follow some of the more popular blogs and their comments, I see some of these from time to time and do not understand why some people are so miserable with their life - or worse I suppose - so ignorant within their life.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe Diane!

Delighted to meet up with you again. I think that the chance of you and I meeting for the first time f2f (rather than through blogging) would be less than one in a million.

But your point about meeting up with edubloggers (at conferences - where else?) is a good one and the interests that we share bring a higher likelihood of us meeting, principally because of organised conferences.

Ka kite
Catch ya later

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kuhu mai Ken!
Kia ora Diane!

@Ken - I presume your comment refers to Diane's? I agree with you about the fascinating way people can keep their personality from their blog.

@Diane - I tend to feel that I'm like you, that what I (try) to reflect in posts and comments is who I am as a (f2f) person, not some avatar-like character that I try to live up to in the blogosphere. But the more I learn about kids and adults on the Net, the more I learn that a substantial proportion who interact through that medium keep a huge part of their personality hidden.

I have to say that I can see, perhaps, why some would want to do that. Maybe to get some release from who they are, maybe to just have hilarious fun as they might do at a charades party, maybe just to see what difference it makes to become someone who (they think) is different from themselves.

I'm not suggesting that it is necessarily a personality defect that makes them want to be someone different on the Net. As you say, Ken, role playing - Net charades if you like.

Thank you both for dropping round. I enjoy the conversation!

Ka kite

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,
You ask some intriguing questions. I find that I return to blogs that are written by authors who I can imagine as people - because they write with their name, post their pictures, write about their dreams and fears... and that is how I write in my blog, it is very much about my dreams and fears around teaching and education.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tracy!

Thanks for dropping by. Your opinion is much appreciated. I agree with what you say about identity. Being able to put a name to a person would certainly help with that.

I think that writing about dreams and fears is often something that people find difficult to do. It was only when I began writing verse (ca 1990) that I found it easier to write about these emotions. I suppose any inhibition in this regard tends to hide part of the personality too.

Thanks for making me think more about this aspect of portraying the self.

Ka kite anō