AoIR 4.1.2


This reveals my deep humanities-oriented bias, but I must confess that quantitative studies leave me at a complete loss. I do admire anyone who has the patience for the counting-work of quantitative discourse analysis, but I’m never sure what I should take from it. Okay, so 60 percent of the weblogs you looked at that focused primarily on personal content were written by women, while 85 percent of weblogs that served as news or link filters were written by men. But what does that tell me? Or more: what does that tell me that isn’t either reductive or truistic? I crave interpretation, analysis, reading.

Or, as Liz asked, what are the implications of a project that begins with the intent of seeking the “average” blogger, when that average (if it indeed exists anywhere) only tells us something useful about the center, and nothing whatsoever about the majority that exists outside it? (5.07 pm)



Gary Thompson, in his paper “Visual Factors in Constructing Authenticity in Weblogs”, presented his students’ reponses to the visual aspects of a series of blogs, ranging from the A-list to the randomly personal. Interestingly, his conclusions suggest that, despite his students’ apparent craving for anarchic design, they nonetheless privilege what Thompson refers to as the “modernist” school of design (lots of white real estate, low-key color usage, Times New Roman or sans-serif fonts — this begins to sound a bit familiar) when deciding which blogs they “like,” when “liking” takes into consideration some aspect of seriousness. One of the questioners used the adjective “corporate” to describe this style. Is the preference for the clean style a sign of our complicity within the dominant ideology, our incorporation? (5.23 pm)

3 responses to “AoIR 4.1.2”

  1. In a class discussion I led, my students had an almost identical reaction. They liked lots of white space and usually preferred blogs without photographs.

    Students did enjoy “personal” style, but this may be due to Georgia Tech’s emphasis on engineering and computer science, where simplicity tends to be privileged.

    I don’t think it has to entail complicity with any dominant ideology, though. After all, academic books usually have a “conservative” visual design. But, wow, now you have me thinking…

  2. Let me clarify the above comment: students enjoyed some kinds of individuality, but tended to prefer relatively simple design (which I should have then attributed to their status as future engineers).

  3. Simple design is good design, I think. Blogs are meant to be read (at least the ones I frequent), and clear text on a plain background just works better. Where I think creativity comes in is in the formatting of a page – how can you individualize and distinguish your blog from the thousands of others? Again, I think simplicity works best here – graphics-heavy, rainbow-colored, counter-intuitive design lacks so much in grace and ease-of-use that its uniqueness goes from a positive to a negative.

    I think the best blog design is a simple but customized one – so don’t just use a livejournal template.

    In summary, and making the preceding rant superfluous: blogs are supposed to present information, and if that information is textual it should be simple and intuitive in its presentation. The more complex the design, the more obscured the information.

    For photoblogs etc, all bets off.

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