I’ve been working on chapter 7 of my thesis (textual functions of Personal Weblogs) for the last week and a half. Work is going well, even though I’m a bit worried about my time management and the amount of space this chapter will probably occupy in the end.
So far, I have finished a research review, the methodology and some functions. As I have pointed out in this post, I basically present ethnocategories such as update, filter, or sharing experience and the linguistic descriptions of postings that belong in each category. Thus, I hope to blend the benefits of ethnographic studies (such as Nardi et al. 2004a and 2004b, Reed 2005, Brake 2007, Baumer et al. 2008) and detailed linguistic analysis. The advantage of combining two methodologies (apart from gaining a clearer insight into what actually characterises the different functions, i.e., how they are actually realised in Personal Weblogs) lies, in my opinion, in the opportunity of generating functional categories on the basis of linguistic analysis which are not mentioned explicitely / only vaguely by bloggers or by ethnographic studies, respectively. In order to be able to present categories without ethnographic counterpart (and for reasons of legibility), I have decided on presenting the functions arranged in the following groups (inspired by Brinker’s works):
- primarily informative functions
- primarily appellative functions
- primarily contact-oriented functions
- functions focussed on benefits of the writing process
I am currently working on informative functions. The chapter is structured like this:
- sharing experience
- further primarily informative functions
Subchapter 4 is what I am currently focussed on. It is not as easy and clear-cut as the first three subchapters. I think, it should include the following functional patterns:
- informing about external topics (cf. Puschmann 2009, 2010)
- voicing opinions
- giving advice
Today, I have covered the first point. I have discovered that it includes actually two patterns: First of all, postings that mimic a newspaper-like style and seem to belong into the category “journalistic blogging”. Secondly, postings aimed at some kind of knowledge transfer from experts to interested laypeople. I am not sure whether I should seperate these patterns, but I guess – as the postings of these groups look quite differently and the functions “providing the latest news” vs. “transferring expert knowledge in an understandable way” are distinct enough to treat them as different patterns.
While writing this, I realised that the function “knowledge transfer” is quite close to “giving advice” as the latter is some kind of knowledge transfer with the special twist of providing instructions. “Giving advice” also exhibits certain overlaps with “sharing experience” as the advice given in Personal Weblogs is often nothing else than knowledge gained by experience. I think, I should explicitely state these overlaps and use them for smoothely guiding the reader through the subchapter….
Tomorrow, I will make sure to split the first category of the subchapter (informing about external topics) into the two subcategories just mentioned. From there, I will continue with “giving advice” in order to provide a smooth transition. What a plan!
Outlook: I am still thinking about the quantification part of the chapter. How does a correlation study work? My idea is to create variables for each function in SPSS to be able to state for each weblog whether the specific function could be detected. I would like to use these variables for some sort of correlation to answer the question of which functions do usually co-occur in weblogs and whether functional clusters can be detected. I will give this some more thought and come back to it in the next post.