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

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

As products of their time, blogs mirror the cultural changes of the late 1990s, when, the authors recall, the boundary between the private and the public decreases. The authors cite Calvert’s definitions of “mediated voyeurism” and its counterpart “mediated exhibitionism,” both of which became morally neutral in the period, to further explain the change of kairos and the period when the blog emerged.

Based on the semantic content, blogs can be of two types: those offering links to information and those which emphasize self-expression, according to Rebecca Blood. 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 frequent updating and reverse chronology. These features originate in predecessors to the blog such as the commonplace book, the Wunderkammer, the journal and the anthology, among others, which the authors identify as having the “recurrent rhetorical motive” utilized by the blog.

Whereas bloggers mostly agree on the above features as intrinsic to the blog, there is disagreement in regard to the action of this genre. One of the social actions the article mentions is community building and the subsequent sense of belonging to a certain “tribe” within this larger community. In addition, Miller and Shepherd state that the blog enables the blogger to engage in the process of self-disclosure which fulfills four purposes: “self-clarification, social validation, relationship development, and social control.” Furthermore, the constant adaptations to the blog are seen by the authors as not only altering its social functions, but also giving rise to different sub-genres.

It should be borne in mind, however, the authors stress, that the self the blogger presents in his/her blog 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. March 22, 2013

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