Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Anne Beaulieu, a senior researcher with Networked Research and Digital Information at Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science, writes about blogs as fields for ethnographic work (Meditating Ethnography: objectivity and the making of ethnographies of the internet. Forthcoming 2004).

In the section about blogs, she refers to the paper on weblogs by Torill Mortensen and Jill Walker and states that the blog is experienced as "a context and a mode of communication, a hybrid tool for making, presenting and reflecting on the object that is furthermore exposed in a new way.".

But this part in Beaulieu's paper fascinates me the most: "The informality of this mode of writing, researching and communicating has been the object of backlash in some academic circles (though none, as far as I could tell, were ethnographic), and some scholars have reported that their blogging activities were considered too ‘journalistic’ by their peers (Glenn 2003). These protests may be signs of changing values in the wake of novel forms of scientific communication."

If some consider blogs to be a backlash today, what will the opinions be in a couple of years? And what will the role of the blog, when it comes to academic research, be? Blogging has in fact already matured from link-driven sites to moblogs, hobby weblogs, diary weblogs and some weblogs focus on one single matter. And within a short period of time, too. But what about the role of the blog in academia: will the scientific communication develop in unexpected ways, or will the claimed backlash continue? I definitely hope Beaulieu is right when saying that the criticism may be a sign of changing values in academic communication.

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