Our paper proposal for the AoIR Conference have been accepted. We will be presenting a paper about live blogging in the next conference of the Association of Internet Researcher that will be held in Copenaghen from October 16th to October 18th. The title of the proposal is ‘Live blogging, enacting objects, performing identities’. I could explain that it is a discussion on.. but it is better if you have a look to the abstract.
Live blogging: enacting objects, performing identities
The objective of this paper is to analyze a set of related practices unfolded by bloggers that consists of writing posts, taking photos, recording videos and publishing them on the Internet while attending public events on blogs. Individuals maintain through this practice called ‘live blogging’ a twofold way of interactions through the blog and through face to face. We will show how online offline dichotomy vanishes during the live blogging and how the whole bloggers’ presence in the event is mediated by their blogs.
Live blogging takes place in a context resembling videogames LAN parties, a type of event where gamers meet to engage together in multiplayer online games. It has been shown how gamers display a collective sense of belonging and shared identity in these events (Jansz & Martens, 2005), and how dichotomies between the online and offline are negotiated in newly ways (Swalwell, 2006).
We want to focus the analysis of live blogging on the performance of identity, one of the main topics in the social and cultural studies of the Internet. Identity construction online has been usually understood from the dramaturgical approach of Erving Goffman by which a personal web page (Chandler, 1998), a blog (Trammell & Keshelashvili, 2005) or a profile of a social network site (boyd & Heer 2006) are interpreted as the front stage of identity performance that is set out through images, text, videos and links. Objects (a blog, a profile or a web site) are treated, from this perspective, as the blank scenario or recipient of the subject performance.
The objective of our paper is to locate the analysis of the relation between bloggers and blogs from a perspective that place materiality (objects, artefacts, things…) at the core of the social analysis. We will follow the conception of mediation proposed by Bruno Latour (Lator, 1994) according to which mediation refers to the multiple ways people and things swap properties in their interactions process towards a goal, an objective, an outcome, etc. We follow a growing trend in anthropology and sociology that pointes to the importance of materiality in the analysis of the social world and that proposes to give up the ontological dichotomy that establishes two different spheres for the material and the symbolic, nature and culture, humans and non-humans (Latour, 1993; Henare et alt., 2007; Pelks et alt., 2002). From this approach, material objects (whatever we understand by ‘material’) are not only a recipient of symbolic meanings but they stand for themselves in the fabric of the social.
Coming to the analysis of blogs, it has been argued how mediated conversations require individuals to write themselves into being (boyd & Heer, 2006). However, what has been rarely considered is how the very practice of enacting oneself into being through mediating technologies (a webpage, a blog, a social network site) performs not only the individual identity but the object itself (Law & Urry, 2004). From this perspective the very practice of performing identity, and so enacting the object, become of enormous importance and call upon considering the mutual constitution of blog and blogger.
The article will develop two main topics on live blogging: first, how blogs are publicly performed through the unfolding of material devices such as cameras, laptops, images, etc. in the blogging practice; and second, how individuals recognise themselves as bloggers by performing these practices during the event.
The empirical data for the analysis has been collected during the attendance to more than a dozen multitudinous bloggers events celebrated in Spain. It is part of an 18 month ethnography developed in Spain and focused on the study of intensive bloggers practices. Data for the article have been selected from three different attended events.
We believe that the analysis of live blogging offers an opportunity for contrasting some generalized notions and theorization on blogs, and in so doing reflecting on some methodological and theoretical implications for the study of Computer Mediated Communication. We claim that in the analysis of identity performance in mediated contexts we should take into account the situated practice of enacting a digital object as part of the identity performance and how the mediation of objects reach (in space and time) further than the very communication moment.
boyd, d., & Heer, J. (2006, January 4 – 7). Profiles as Conversation: Networked Identity Performance on Friendster. Paper presented at the Hawai’i International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-39), Kauai.
Chandler, D. (1998). Personal Home Pages and the Construction of Identities on the Web, from http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/webident.html
Henare, A., Holbraad, M., & Wastell, S. (Eds.). (2007). Thinking Through Things. Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically. Abingdon: Routledge.
Jansz, J., & Martens, L. (2005). Gaming at a LAN event: the social context of playing video games. New Media and Society, 7(3), 333-355.
Latour, B. (1994). On Technical Mediation. Common Knowledge, 3(2), 29-64.
Latour, B. (1993). We Have Never Been Modern: Harvard University Press.
Law, J., & Urry, J. (2004). Enacting the social. Economy and Society, 33(3), 390-410.
Pels, D., Hetherington, K., & Vandenberghe, F. (Eds.). (2002). Theory, Culture & Society vol. 19, num. 1.
Swalwell, M. (2006). Multi-Player Computer Gaming: ‘Better than playing (PC Games) with yourself. Reconstruction, 6(1).
Trammell, K. D., & Keshelashvili, A. (2005). Examining the New Influencers: A Self-Presentation Study of A-List Blogs. Journalism and Mass Communciation Quaterly, 82(4), 968-982.