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AoIR 4.1.1

What follows is the first set of what I hope to be a decently full set of entries on my experiences here at the conference. A program note: because of some of the restrictions in wireless access here, my plan at the moment is to post once or twice each day, though I’m blogging throughout the day; I’ll attempt to time-stamp each sub-entry to indicate the sequence of their writing.


After two long flights (which I’ll only describe by presenting one small detail: Houston to Toronto on an Embraer Regional Jet, which seems to me to defeat the whole purpose of that R in ERJ), I arrived in Toronto late last night. Alas, I’m still pretty clearly on west-coast time, so I was wide-awake until 3 am, and dragging myself out of bed at 7.45 was painful. But: up, shower, breakfast, conference.

I’m very pleased to have caught the tail end of Alex Halavais’s “Broadening the Blog I” panel, in particular because of a suggestion made by Matthew Rothenberg near the end of his paper “Weblogs and the Semantic Web”: what if traditional scholars were to adopt from webloggers the technologies of TrackBack pings, such that scholarly conversations could be traced forward, and not simply backward? Right now, scholarly modes of reference — the footnote, the bibliography — allow for an archaeology of scholarly exchanges, tracking them backward to their influences and origins, but there is no currently available way to follow such exchanges forward. What if databases such as the MLA Bibliography could be adapted to such technologies — such that footnotes of new articles are mined for their references, and those references set to “ping” the previous references that appear in the database?

More soon. (9.45 am)


Taso Lagos, in a paper entitled “Parallel Society: Weblogs, Micromedia, and the Fragmentation of the Public Sphere” (during the “Broadening the Blog II” panel), pointed to the rise and fall of interest in the Greek video-gaming ban as evidence of the different mechanisms by which the “parallel society” of blogging functions: bloggers find modes of political protest that evade traditional channels, but issues too often die without ever fully developing.

This reminded me of Liz’s post from some weeks back on the speed with which posts roll off the front page and into the archives, often too quickly for conversations to develop to anything like fruition.[1] I imagine that the “recent posts” module might be one method of sustaining focus on particular issues, but how effective is that, really? Another method might be that I’ve seen ogged pursue throughout the consideration of the Plame affair, raising an issue and returning to it enough times for the multiplicity of its issues to develop. The drawback to this mode is its reliance on the link to mainstream media news or other bloggerly interest: such an issue can really only stay in focus in the blog as long as it stays in focus elsewhere.

Another possibility might be a form of serialized posting: raising a topic, opening comments, and responding to comments in future posts, or else releasing a topic into the blog in increments. The latter option feels a bit disingenuous to me, and the former threatens to close discussion down rather than open it up. I’m trying to brainstorm other modes, though, of sustaining such discourse over longer periods of time. Given my own surprise on rediscovering an 11-month-old post on our new Governor, I have to wonder if the nature of the blog is forgetting.

Of course, this begs yet another issue: Is an onanistic mode of selflinking necessary to any attempt to overcome such forgetting?

  1. Of course, one of the ironies of this link is precisely that I haven’t forgotten; as one of Liz’s commenters suggests, “the interaction over a post might be short-lived, but I think a good post lingers.” (12.04 pm) ↩︎


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