The last three weeks were quite exhausting, exciting and in general a thrilling experience for me as a doctoral student.
In February, I had the opportunity of presenting my diachronic corpus of Personal Weblogs to an audience of media linguists and communication scientists on the conference of the DGPuK section “Mediensprache”. The focus of the talk was my methodology of collecting corpus candidates and selecting those that were added to the corpus. I also presented some ideas about the use of images in Personal Weblogs. The slides and the manuscript of the talk can be found on the “publication”-page.
The feedback was quite positive. Michael Klemm suggested conducting interviews, especially concerning the question of media selection – the choice between a weblog, facebook, twitter and other forms of communication. I am thinking about this suggestion; probably I won’t have the time and space to include that in my doctoral thesis. I guess I should focus on the material I have gained from analysing the metablogging in my corpus texts. However, it might be a good idea to mention the idea of conducting interviews as matter of further research in my conclusion-section.
Another comment concerned the size of my corpus, in particular the 80 texts in period II.C. I should be aware that people will always ask why there is a particular number of texts, why not more, why not less. I am thinking of extending the corpus to 100 texts per period in part II. This entails a lot of work; however, according to my estimation formula (I use Raithels (2008: 62) formula n>=10*K^v with K being the number of features per variable and v being the number) 100 texts are a safe number to work with as all my variables do not have more than 8-ish different features and my study does not need to look at more than 2 variables simultaneously. Be that as it may, I find this insisting on numbers a bit frustrating. I mean, I DO have 80 texts per period II.B and II.C and even 93 for period II.A. And I DO work with a sheer flood of examples from those texts – so why is that not enough to describe some patterns and their change(s)?
Another, very interesting suggestion was that of a connection between media development and topics – never thought about the fact that fashion blogs came into existence because of the ease of embedding images! Thanks to Christof Barth (Trier University) for that idea!
My second talk was last weekend (14th NLK) and dealt with the textual functions of the Personal Weblogs in DIABLOK. I presented my methodology – a combination of Grounded Theory-style content analysis (Glaser & Holton 2004; Mayring 2010) and linguistic analysis à la Klaus Brinker (1983, 2000, 2010). I basically work with ethnocategories here – so I try to find out what bloggers say they do functionwise and analyse these functional patterns linguistically. I suggested functional patterns called Update, Filter, and Sharing Experience.
My mentor Alexander Brock, who was also present at the conference, was not quite content with the names of the functional patterns, especially regarding the Update-function. I am not sure whether I get him right: His point is that “Update” actually only concerns a special kind of information structure, a ratio of new and old information. In my opinion, “Update” is a functional pattern that the blogging community has termed like that and which can be recognized by structural, contextual and functional features (see my slides for examples).
Our compromise, however (even though it might be the result of a misunderstanding) is quite a useful one: My mentor suggested not to present all the ethnocategories as seperate sub chapters but rather group them according to their dominating functional component. So there will be sub chapters on informational, appellative, and contact functions as well as on production-oriented functions (thinking by writing, releasing emotional tension, creative expression).
Apart from that, I got a highly interesting comment about the DarkNet with its utter anonymity and a possible comparison of my Personal Weblogs with the textual patterns to be found there. Thank you, Marco, for that – I will definitely follow this trace some day!