Thursday, February 17

following the conflict...

I spent most of today reading Alireza Doostdaars' The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging. The paper gives an interesting insight into "Weblogstan" - the iranian weblogsphere - by concentrating on a specific debate about "vulgar" linguistic and cultural practices there, thus cleverly avoiding issues of outlining which blogs one is analysing and which not. Part of the research was to keep a blog in which the author commented on the ongoing conversation - thus participating as well as observing what was going on. He very openly reflects on his methods (like sending trackback pings or referencing "Harvard" to get attention to his posts) and also puts them in context with what bloggers usually do.

Something I'm still wondering about is what the reactions to the paper are. I did an internet-search for reviews but found disappointingly unsubstantial comments. Is it that people don't print out a 16-page paper that is written in (a very readable but still) acadmic style or are there just much more reactions in Persian to it? What I also did not discover was a hint at informed consent: were the people cited asked when their posts were put in the paper? But I guess they could watch the evolving paper on the (now not any more updated) blog.

In my search for comments I discovered another paper by the same author: Blogging for Imam Hussein. And if one doesn't feel like's a link to a speech given by Alireza on "Vulgar Vagabonds in Veblogestan"

Oh - and for all of you who speak Persian - here's a collection of all the important contributions to the debate analysed.

Interesting are also Alirezas comments on why he's blogging the way he's blogging:
First, it is unusual for an ethnographer to put his/her observation notes where everyone can see them (i.e., on a blog). [Yes, indeed! And I wonder if he'd written it much differently into a little notepad just for himself...] Second, I wasn’t really a “participant” observer because I was trying to write about Iranian weblogs without myself immersing in blogging in the way that it is commonly practiced (although there might be some difference of opinion over just what IS common… but I won’t get into that). I have now realized that these issues can potentially lead to confusion over why I’m blogging and what my blogs are really about... more here

Oh - and if anyone's still wondering what it's all about - here the authors own words:
My study focuses primarily on the linguistic side of the controversy: I analyze blogging as an emergent speech genre and identify the structural features and social interactions that make this genre seem "vulgar." I also examine the controversy as a confrontation between bloggers with unequal access to cultural capital and a struggle over "intellectualist" hegemony. In the conclusion, I use the construct of "deep play" to weave together multiple layers of structure, explanation, and meaning in the debate.


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