Enough people have expressed an interest in doing a panel on blogging for the Association of Internet Researchers conference this autumn, that I’m going to try to throw it together at the last minute. The proposal is due March 1, so there is some coordination effort required. I have a list of folks I need to send an email out to, both those who have already expressed an interest in the panel (getting a firm committment and an abstract from them), and others who I think might be interested. Unfortunately, I am at home and missing some of the emails on that list, so it won’t go out until tomorrow.
Here’s the very drafty abstract for the panel that I just typed up. It needs serious work, but I want to get a feel for the range of the papers before I massage it:
Broadening the Blog
Weblogs have enjoyed a rapid diffusion over the last two years. A technology that often emphasizes the written word and intertextual communities, it is in some ways a resurgence of earlier applications of computer networking that emphasized distributed conversation over information-seeking or broadcasting. While there remain some blogs that make up an elite core, there are tens of thousands of sites maintained by individuals who receive, and often seek, a narrower audience.
Despite the ever-increasing number of people around the world who are engaging in blogging, significant coverage in the mass media (of, for example, the role of blogs in the Trent Lott affair), and the immanent entry of media giants like America Online, there remains a dearth of published scholarly work in the area. This panel provides a venue to describe and define the scholarly issues at hand, as well as establishing some core work within this emerging area of study.
Our interest is in how weblogging and microcontent generally will affect innovation, social structure, pedagogy, journalism, and political participation. The focus of these presentations is, in keeping with the theme of the conference, on what happens as blogging becomes a mass phenomena. While many of the popular accounts discuss some of the impact that major columnists and academics have had by publicizing their views via personal blogs, the papers on this panel will seek out an understanding of blogs as a larger social process.