Communities driven by self-interest

B) Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.

I am a big fan of blogs and the interactivity that they promote, and find Lovink’s statement to be slightly contradictory. It assumes that “managing the self” and being part of a community or mob are mutually exclusive, when I think that it is exactly the self-interest of a blog that enables collective debate and action.

Lovink argues that “blogs are part of a wider culture that fabricates celebrity on ever possible level” (Lovink  pg 28), and that they are essentially an egocentric way of promoting the self. I definitely agree that this happens, but would contend that it isn’t a bad thing. When your identity is attached to your online activity, you are more invested in it and feel more accountable. You have a personal impetus to make sure what you write is relevant and well-researched, and so take a special interest in networking with other appropriate blogs.

I think a great example of this is Feminisnt. Not only is it a scintillating, relevant, and well-written blog, it also has a great sense of connectivity with the online sex-positive feminist community. It is a non-commercial blog made by an individual (FurryGirl) using wordpress just like us, and I believe that it works well to create a sense of community and has many inspiring ideas.

Unlike the blogs that Lovink mentioned which disable the ability to comment, Feminisnt encourages interactivity. FurryGirl gets regular comments has an extensive blogroll linking to other related blogs and websites. While her blog is most primarily a tool for managing herself and her interests, it is this very egocentric interest that sparks her involvement and interactivity with the greater online community. She conducted an online survey recently in the interests of debunking myths about sex workers and their rights.

Indeed, I am fascinated by the online sex-positive community and their use of blogs to get their voices heard. It restores my faith in the ability for blogs to be an empowering, democratic force. As Fanselow says in his article on blogging:

“The best blogs evolve into online communities where dozens—sometimes hundreds—of citizens regularly comment, offer news tips, and generally gather around these blogs just as they might meet at a local coffee shop.” (Fanselow, 2008 pg 24)

Thus I believe that not only are there many examples of up-to-date, interesting blogs that form a community around them, but that the fact that a blog is attached to someone’s personality and identity helps create this atmosphere.  Discussion and comments are encouraged since you’re talking to a person, not a corporation or anonymous figure. The person is relatable, since you too have your own blog and know what it feels like to be them. You may even comment on their page with the hope of promoting your own blog. Whatever the reason is, the self-interest that the blogosphere has injected into politics has done wonders for communities and debate, and I think that this is the beauty of narcissistic personal blogs.

References:

Fanselow, J 2008, “Community Blogging: the new wave of citizen journalism”,National Civic Review, vol. 97, pp.24-30

Lovink, G 2007, “Blogging: The Nihilistic Impulse”, Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp.1-38

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One response to “Communities driven by self-interest

  1. Feminisnt is an interesting example of a blog! Glad to hear that there is democratic debate and discussion happening on it between the blogger and the readers.

    On the other hand, I’ve come across a lot of personal blogs that do get comments but there often isn’t much two-way, interactive discussion happening on them. Readers usually only direct their comments at the blogger. And if it’s a very popular blog, sometimes the blogger never replies to the comments they get. So while blogs do have features that allow interactivity, they don’t seem to be facilitating two-way communication all the time. Instead, the dialogue that happens on blogs tend to be quite isolated and fragmented- 1.) the blogger expresses his/her opinions with a post and 2.) readers express their opinion in response to the post or just they just make general remarks regarding the general topic of the post

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