Lilia is taking another look at weblog conversations (and I am too). Her posts so far:
- Weblog conversations revisited: an introduction
- Weblog conversations revisited: is there more than one?
A weblog conversation is a set of linked posts. The most natural counterparts are threads in email or newsgroups. From the beginning (e.g. weblog conversations; time based view), we defined that a weblog conversation does not include self-links.
Despite this definition, Lilia wants to study the relation between conversations and personal blogging practices, with a particular emphasis on self-linking. The combination of conversations (linked posts) and self-linking (which will result in linking conversations to each other) generates an amorphous and incomprehensable blurb when visualised. After some experimentation (fortune has it I'm not a mathematician "if it is linked, we called it a graph"), and following the general principle to keep it simple, the relation between conversations and self-linking is perhaps best studied by visualising the following:
- Black: a conversation. All details about the conversation are hidden (in an interactive environment zooming in is always possible).
- Yellow: a boundary link. A self-link into a conversation. That is, there is a personal link inside the conversation already, but no one else links to a boundary link.
- Pink: a secondary link. A self-link to a boundary link or another secondary link.
The boundary links are very close to the conversations (one self-link apart), the secondary links are further away (at least two self-links from a conversation). Surprising as it may seem, secondary links are very seldom in the data I looked at (might be interesting for social scientists to try to explain that!).
Four examples. (1) The small one at the top right only contains black squares: the person is involved in conversations but does not self-link to any of his/her posts inside the conversation. (2) The example above shows a more mature example of involvement in conversations and following them up. The fascinating thing is that not only there are self-links to conversations, but that some conversations get connected by these self-links, which suggest that according to this blogger the conversations may be related.
These two examples are typical in the data used. The last two examples below show bloggers who engage into conversations as well as adding to them personally on a large scale. And, finally we see some pink posts too! The last picture gives an idea how really seldom these pink posts are.
In A model (framework) for weblog research it was suggested that one should look at five dimensions to study weblogs. This post shows that one can obtain a fascinating peek into the blogosphere by looking at just two dimensions (links, persons). Perhaps it is an idea to also add time so that we can see whether the yellow and pink posts occur before (this is possible), during or after the conversation.