The Weblog Genre: An Actor-Network Perspective

The Weblog Genre: An Actor-Network Perspective

Hassen Rabhi (University of Gafsa, Gafsa, Tunisia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJANTTI.2017040101

Abstract

This article aims at exploring the process of digital genre formation in general and weblogs in particular. While genre theory basically delimits genre features, it cannot handle their construction procedures. Approaching the weblog genre through the lens of Actor Network Theory (henceforth, ANT) provides practical tools for not only conducting a generic analysis of the blogging phenomenon but also following the network relations that shape the process of its construction. The results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of a corpus of 497 blog entries by 39 A-list American political bloggers revealed that the key features of the weblog genre are relational effects of a process of interaction between a network of humans and non-human actors. Tracing all forms of negotiations and their effects shows how the actors involved in the formation of the weblog genre are assemblies or gatherings of myriad things brought together and linked through processes of translation. Therefore, foregrounding associations does not only deepen the exploration of the weblog genre but also furthers understanding of related, yet unexamined internet-based genre. It also draws attention to the affordances of the weblog technology and their effects in connection with a network of human and non-human entities.
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2. Weblogs

Weblogs constitute one of the frequently cited cases of online interactive technologies. It must be noted that there is a difficulty in dealing with these technologies as they are flexible and dynamic. Beer argues (2008) that one of the key problems facing research into what are quite rapidly shifting contemporary online cultures concerns “…the types of definitions we use to understand what is happening and to classify different types of web applications…” (p. 4). Indeed, coming up with a clear view and, thus, a unique definition of weblogs remains a challenge due to their evolving designs.

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