Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Nina, Kat and I are all just back from the Association of Internet Researchers Annual Conference (AoIR 5.0). On the eve of the resuscitation of my own work on blogs and personal photography (I take up my new grant on Oct. 1), I tried to see most of the blog papers. Again and again, my reaction was to feel as though the debates and problems being aired in relation to blogs were not my debates and problems. This kind of estrangement happens between disciplines and in that sense, I'm not surprised--nevertheless, I was surprised. Some disciplines are, of course, closer than others: they share methods, theory, favourite authors and important historical points of reference. Others, which one might think to be nearer relations (e.g the disciplines which have taken up blogs), in fact overlap very little. In a sense, that's all fine and this isn't a complaint. After all, the fact that we're all working on blogs guarantees no kind of complementarity. On the other hand, what if I want to create lines of connection with those researchers, e.g. the ones approaching blogs through quantitative methods, or through the framework of "Uses and Gratifications" theory (something I'd not heard anything about until the conference this year, where it turned up as a popular way to link bloggers with their motivations)? I've spent a fair bit of time working closely and collaboratively with disciplines that aren't my own (e.g. design, art), so the problem isn't in that solely. But so far I'm flummoxed on this one. This is a wider gulf than I'm used to encountering. I need to think more about it, look over my notes from the blog talks, and possibly strike up some more detailed conversations.