Hello Crazy World, It Is I…

and you thought I was gone…left the building…escaped out the back door? Well, think again mighty brain trust…. I am back like a bad dream just waiting to twist your little brain in to a pretzel. What do you think about Wislawa? great, huh… to bad we all must die. You know I think sleeping is over rated. Why did God make such a wonderful creation only to have us stop working so we could rest… hate sleeping!

You know the woman that originally created this blog was pretty damn incredible. We didn’t have the same political views and could very well have had a wonderful argument over a volume of topics. I did however bring her back to life though her original blog and historical posts…. no she’s not dead, well at least I do’t think she is (not old enough). I wonder what she will think if she ever ventures on to the site? will she like it, will she hate it, will she laugh or will she cry…. I have no idea but either way… I am impressed with her.

“It’s hard watching people change, but it’s even harder remembering who they used to be” – have no idea

blog!

“Over the years, philosophers, anthropologists and scientists have tried to define what makes Homo sapiens uniquely Homo sapiens. We are tool-makers, some experts tell us. We possess the capacity for complex language, others point out. We enjoy sex and engage in it for purposes other than procreation. We feel and express emotions. We experience wonder and curiosity, and we have the ability to contemplate why we exist and what the meaning of our lives may be. All of these statements are arguably true. But there is another distinguishing characteristic of human beings that has been unknown or underestimated until recently:

We blog.

(from blog! how the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture)

I ordered (and received) a book called blog! before Christmas. I had not picked it up yet, instead looking over a wonderful book called style and sociolinguistic variation. Now that I have read the introduction to blog! i cant wait to delve further!! It seems wonderfully written, with a great format and not too sensational or over-romantic (contrary to the above quote). The book is separated into three parts: politics, business and culture. I will skim the first two sections, but am most interested in the third. The one sentiment that I have gleamed from the introduction which I feel separates it from the rest of the blogging books i have read is that it is grounded in the human need to communicate, rather than in the technology. It repeats the statement that blogging will not look like blogging in the future (i.e., the medium being the message), but will take the lessons that we have been learning since we first splashed color on cave walls about conversation and communication and apply them in a way that was previously impossible as it is only recently that this marriage between technology and communication allows us to converse on a global scale.

classic case of chicken and the egg?

So tell me, which came first: gender or purpose? what, you ask well, let me explain. last night i spent a long, lovely time in the bathtub reading Jennifer Coates introductory book, Women Men and Language. In the chapter discussing quantitative studies, Coates exemplified the classic sociolinguistic gender pattern: i.e., that men tend to speak in regional dialects, while women tend to strive for the standard dialect (due to reasons such as prestige and covert prestige). All the studies shown in this book were separated by *both* gender and socioeconomic patterns. Which makes me wonder it the emphasis on the socioeconomic does not skew the findingsat least making it difficult to say that it is only gender at work. What makes me question this mix are the findings I have read in the last two days by Herring, as well as by Huffaker and Calvert. Both studies (and I will look more at the Huffaker/Calvery article later), showed non-significant relationship with gender and variables traditionally associated with gender. There was a much stronger correlation with genre. And this makes me start to think if gender can be more easily disguised online, and patterns hereto associated with gender are not present in any significant way, then maybe gender was not the defining characteristic after all. Maybe features traditionally associated with gender (hedging, pronoun usage, etc.) have much more to do with the communicative purpose and the audience than the speaker/writer’s gender.

Comparing these off-line and online patterns is helping me focus my next hypotheses (article forthcoming). One aspect I want to examine is each posts communicative purpose and intended audience to determine if patterns traditionally associated with the bloggers gender could actually be originating from the purpose.

Chair(person?)

Humanities PHD Student Board
Can I have more?

 

 

 

On Monday I became chairwoman/person(?) of the Humanities PhD student Board (Doktorandföreningen). And today I got all the binders that go with the job. I actually had to borrow a cart from housekeeping to get them to my office! But, am excited about the post 🙂

 

 

 

 

Medium as message

Yesterday I went through the 80+ pages of templates looking for a nice base to tweak. While template surfing, I was struck by the change in space available for the post. Or perhaps it would be better to say the attention given to the post rather than the space available. I wonder if this is a reflection of RSS reading? With RSS you bring the content back to youno stylesheet included. If you want to get readers to interact on your site, however, maybe a flashy template is necessary

Or maybe blogging content is running dry? Maybe the luster has worn off a bit. Maybe we are running out of things to say. Maybe the medium really is becoming the message. It is all of a sudden so cool to have a blog (well, relatively cool :-P). Newspapers and business have jumped on the bandwagon, and often they miss a key aspect of blogging the conversation. In order to have a nice little conversation, you need a bit of content to converse about. No coffee talk lady giving you a topic and telling you to discuss it amongst yourselves while she whimpers Im a little verklempt! in the background, but real content. A debate. A discussion. A way to group around and support each other. Interaction.

CoffeeTalk
CoffeeTalk

I have been looking at blogging for three years now and it has changed from a very textual medium to one that is also quite visual. But at what cost? How much content are we loosing? Dont get me wrong, there are some visual blogs are that rich in content but others are just rich in pixels. Blogging has passed the proverbial tipping point and soon (maybe) all those who blog for bloggings sake will jump away and content will once again reign supremeat least that is my clichéd pipe-dream 🙂

(A little side note, I am really not sure this theme is me still feels like I am wearing something a bit too bright)

Changing Clothes

In the process of changing clothes again. Too many bloggers had the same outfit and I really don’t like to walk around town in the same thing everyone else is wearing.

This template is the one I am thinking about tweaking. I am not sure, though. It seems a bit too busy for me. When looking for new templates today, I made an interesting observation. There is not really any room for content – or posts at least. I wonder what this says about the state of blogging. There are spaces for the posts, obviously, but the posts are not in focus. The themes are much more prominent than the information in most of the newer themes. This one is not really an exception, but I may be able to tweak the theme to be somewhat more subtle

It all started so innocently!

source of all things good
btw, picture from here. what a cool idea!

I am home with a bad cold and a killer headache and I wonder if this headache (admittedly from the cold) is even worse because of ol Joe. I have not been on the juice that long and it really did start very innocently. A cappuccino here (muuumm), a latte there (oh, yum!), and then when they put a little Irish cream in my latte, oh heaven. But now I am paying for it. My headache reduced significantly when I had a cup this afternoon. Just one cup. I still feel the head cold, all stuffy and tired, but the actual ache well, now I can look around without wanting someone to shoot me. Ugh. Will I have to start my day by getting just a little shot of espresso?!? Will my head scream until I can feel the warm caffeine rushing through my veins? Yikes. Maybe I need to go cold turkey, suffer for a week or so and then stay away from the lovely, frothy goodness.

Biber, Milroy and Bell

reading different articles from the excellent book, style and sociolinguistic variation. the material is somewhat heavy and i think i am in need of a bit of chocolate to keep me going

This is what i have understood so far:

Biber claims that Bells view (that style presupposes the social) is off and that it is actually the communicative functions of language that trump or at the very least, influence social variation. However, Milroy counters that if you delve deeper into communicative functions that you will actually find the classic sociolinguistic finding that if a feature is found to be more common in the lower classes than in the upper classes, it will also be more common in the less formal than the most formal styles. (from Biber/Romaine 1980:228). All seem to agree that differential access by social groups to communicative praxis and to literacy practices are central to an account of differentiated linguistic repertoires (Milroy, this volume:268).

How does this apply?

Well, online you have a strange language contact situation. You do not have one geographical community of practice – although you do have a (depending on the community) fairly strong associations with your community. It would be nice and convenient to say that communication is the clear goal of blogging – but we all know that is not true. As in any other COP, networking (through linking, reference, etc) is nearly (if not as) important as communication.

But I am still trying to figure out what are the best variables to look at when studying blogging COPs. I like Bibers situational parameters: planning, shared context and purpose. I also like Bells concept of audience design. I agree with Milroy that it is not only about the communicative function, but that there are underlying social parameters at work as well so how do you blend these theories? Which variables will help me understand what is going on?

new (to me) theorist

I found a new name today and really like her take on discourse markers:

Deborah Schiffrin on discourse markers (somewhat paraphrased from The Handbook of Discourse Analysis):

  • Discourse as not only a unit of language, but as a process of social interaction
  • Discourse markers as sequentially dependent elements that bracket units of talk, i.e. nonobligatory utterance – initial items that function in relation to ongoing talk and text
  • a set of linguistic expressions such as conjunctions, interjections, adverb and lexicalized phrases.
  • A discourse model with different planes: participation framework, information state, ideational structure, action structure, and exchange structure
  • can work across 1 or several
  • markers have both global and local functions

this little bit in The Handbook has intrigued me, not least the bits about working on several planes and the global and local functions, and I would like to get my hands on more of her work.