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.

How do we answer the ‘how’?

We will leave here today and our language will have changed by the interaction that has taken place.’ –Nev Shrimpton

This was the closing thought one of our corpus linguists left us with after his very interesting seminar on Friday. And, while it is an exaggeration for emphasis, it is also true. Communication is a constant state of negotiation, and language in continuous flux. Those with whom we come into contact modify our language. We speak a certain way with a certain group, and even with ourselves. And while that thought in itself is interesting, even more so is the ‘how’. How does our language change (variation)? How do we use language to communicate in different situations and with different people? How do we do this when taking into consideration the ‘invisible readers’ of blogs and people outside our real-world sociolects (often limited geographically to a select group of speakers)? I believe that blogs are a exceptional object of research to answer this ‘how’. Blogs are social. We have established that they form social networks. The clustering/small world effects allow us to look for variation in regards to perceived general audience as well as to perceived social network. So again, how do we answer the ‘how’. Several ways, I would say.

Social network analysis:

    Where are people positioned in their network? How fluid are those positions? How often (if at all) do their interact with members of other networks?

Corpus Linguistics:

    1. Are different networks using their blogs in different ways? To begin to find this out, I want to identify the registers of different networks. I believe this is key. Are some more speech like than others? Are some more matter-of-fact, some more questioning? Where do they fall on the continuum of speech and writing? Does this differ between the different types of weblog networks? To find this out, I must tag for parts of speech. I will use grammatical patterns, rather than semantic, to determine register.

There are other important and interesting things to look at when using corpus methods. For example, you can use look at pronouns and nouns to measure referring expressions. I think this can be quite interesting, especially when considering that following discourse over different weblogs is not an easy task. This, of course, cannot be done purely from the corpus. You need to take into account whether or not the noun is new or given information. I think whether or not it is also a link will also be significant.

Semantic patterns are also very interesting and will play an important role in determining the register of a group. While this can be done with keyword lists, I think a much better and more useful way *is* with tOKo. You not only get the unique patterns, but their social relations as well. This makes intuitive guesses much less about intuition and more about measurement.

Sociolinguistic:

    How do their positions relate to language maintenance and variation (is there a relationship between the fluidity of placement and variation?)? What about other social variables? Does ‘real-world position’ (i.e. professor rather than a grad student in an academic network) make a difference? Gender? Geography?

About using XML files: The XML files I have at the moment are already tagged for author and URL, which will make exploring social and linguistic relationships easier. I want to add tags which will allow me to explore on different levels; not least, grammatical and syntactic.

on the news about blogs tonight

Tonight (7:15 CET) i will be on svt (the local news) about whether or not i think blogs are a democratic form of media, and more specifically what i think about the Danielsson case. i am not sure if i will just talk, or answer questions but after reading the first blog post and from what i previously believe about blogging vs. journalism this is the jist of what i would like to say:

  • Blogging is NOT journalism (all bloggers sigh once again, the old debate is back)

Blogging and journalism play by different rules. While they do have some things in common, they also have different goals and guidelines. Yes, they both publish. And yes, they both potentially reach thousands, even millions of people. However, journalists have an ethical obligation to give an unbiased version of events. Blogs, on the other hand, are anything but unbiased. Blogs are written by people who have a *strong* interest in what they are writing about. A bloggers passion about his or her topic is what keeps him blogging year after year. The blogger becomes a self-proclaimed expert in his chosen topic. And while bloggers do not need to worry about being objective, they also do not receive the same benefits of the journalist. For example, in the Danielsson case, Ingerö alludes to varies sources for the rumor he writes. Under Swedish law, if he were a journalist, he would be able to keep the identity of those sources private. If he were to be sued for deformation of character as a blogger, however, I believe that he would have to reveal those sources. Blogging is not journalism it is publishing with a purpose.

  • Blogging ethics and identity

When you blog, you build a reputation, an online identity over time. No one is going to read your first post and say, hey, this girl really knows her stuff! i am going to read everything she ever writes and believe every word. And while the latter is a bit of an exaggeration, I think the thought behind it is more common in journalism. If I am reading something I have found in the Guardian, I am much more likely to believe it – even if it is my first time reading the author. If I read Joe Smileys guide to sociolinguistics – a new and wonderful (fictional) blog, I will read it critically for a while before I make up my mind. Once a blogger has built that reputation, to keep it, he or she must be accountable for the things written in the blog. You cant go yell the sky is falling with out a piece of it in your hand. If you do, be prepared to face the consequences – be those from the media, the blogowhorl, or the laws of your country. You are publishing, you are accountable.

  • Reading critically is key

Blogging is called push button publishing, publishing for the people , and all matters of look everyone can do it phrases. The key thing to remember is that *everyone* can do it. Yep, anyone with an Internet connection, and something to say can have their own blog in a matter of minutes. Just because google has cached something and spit it back out in your search results does. not. make. it. fact. You have to be a critical reader! Check your sources, find out where the information is coming from. Dont believe everything in print not when everyone can be Gutenberg.

  • Blogging echos

Bloggers form little (sometimes big) networks. And like any good social network, we talk among ourselves, give each other support, spread bits of news, and enjoy each others company. Blogging, unlike journalism, has a very social side. We network and news echos between us. That news can be taken outside the network by periphery members and spread to other networks, only to echo again. This is how news spreads – because blogs network. (Consequently, journalism has created ways to network news using international new networks such as AP).

Do I believe what Ingerö said about Danielsson was right? For me, it is irrelevant. I dont care whether he was or was not having an affair. What I am more concerned with the free speech versus accountability debate. I am concerned that bloggers continue to fill in the gaps left by  traditional media (this is NOT a slight on traditional mediaas I have stated before, traditional media and blogs have *different* objectives). Bloggers can and should have a voice. Big money and big media should not be the only voice of the public. Blogs are the online public (third) space where we can discuss, protest, meet and enlighten. This space is necessary for free speech. We do, however, need to consider what we say. We are accountable for our thoughts and actions, just as we are in the public spaces our physical bodies inhabit.

by george, i think shes got it!

i have been floundering for a while now, trying to fit what i am seeing in weblog communities into the linguistic model i had previously chosen and i tried, and i read, and i was just *not* making the connections! when i started working with lilia and anjo, i began to dabble in sociolinguistic theories, but never really let my feet get  too wet because it was not the theory i was supposed to be using. well, i finally gave up! i have stopped trying to force my data into a prescribed model of linguistics when there is another that actually fits! it is the Cinderella slipper of my data and i am going to embrace it! ok all exuberance aside, i am so excited about modifying my thesis to use sociolinguistic models rather than cognitive blending! i checked out every book the library has and have read most by now. i am drinking up the literature like my morning coffee and everything just makes sense! in a little under two weeks, i get to present all this new stuff to the linguists in my department as well as to a few over skype. (an aside, i like this experimental way of conducting a seminar skyping in potential opponents.) soon that note, i will leave you with the best sentence i have read so far this morning

“(Linguistic) Changes do not simply spread through the population person by person, but get taken up and manipulated by communities of practice in the construction of social meaning.” –P. Eckert