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Summary: Carolyn R. Miller and Dawn Shepherd’s “Blogging as a Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog”

Miller and Shepherd attempt to define the blog, a phenomenon which obtained the status of a genre in just several decades. By examining the particular social context in which the blogs emerged (the kairos) and further providing an account of the content, form, the shared origins and the social actions performed by blogs, the authors offer a comprehensible analysis of the blog.

As a product of its time, the blog mirrors the cultural changes of the late 1990s, when, the authors recall, the boundary between the private and the public decreases. Miller and Shepherd cite Calvert’s definitions of “mediated voyeurism” and its counterpart “mediated exhibitionism” promoted by the 1990s media as trends which have shaped the blog.

Based on the semantic content, the authors quote Blood, the blog can be of two types, namely blogs offering links to information and those which emphasize self-expression of the author. The form, another main feature of the blog, traditionally contains the date, the time and the permalink of the post, which is written in the present tense, as well as the frequent updating and the reverse chronology. These features originate in the predecessors to the blog: the authors list the commonplace book, the Wunderkammer, the journal and the anthology, among others, as producing a “recurrent rhetorical motive”the blog utilizes.

Whereas the bloggers mostly agree on the above features as intrinsic of the blog, there is disagreement with regards to the action of this genre. One of the social actions the article mentions is the community building and the subsequent sense of belonging to a certain “tribe”in this larger community. Self disclosure is listed as another social action the blog performs. Namely, the blogs thus allow “cultivation and validation of the self”. It should be borne in mind, however, the authors urge us, that such self is a construction, a newly fashioned unitary identity, to whose production the kairos has contributed. In other words, the authors conclude, the blog currently, as an attempt for a stability of the self, opposes the contemporary postmodern tendency to destabilize.

Works cited:

Miller, Carolyn R., and Shepherd Dawn. “Blogging as a Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog.” Into the Blogsphere, University of Minesota, 2004. Web. 11. Feb. 2013

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