Readership in Social Media

When everyone claims to be an author, there can be [...] no audience.” – Andrew Keen

Blog ReaderMuch of the work on social media, especially in the mid-2000s, focused on the democratization of production. What were all these social media producers doing? These includes ethnographic studies of bloggers, social network analyses of linking patterns in blogs, conversational analyses of cross-blog posting and commenting, and other research. In their work on blogging, Nardi et al. (2004) “speculate that blogging is just as much about reading as writing” and posit that “future research is sure to pay attention to blog readers.” This is that research.

One line of work examines more closely the interactions between bloggers and readers through two studies, one on blog reading in general and one focusing on political blogs. In addition to looking at blogger-reader interactions, we also seek to understand the relationship of blog reading to other aspects of life. How does a person’s identity outside of blogs impact his or her blog reading or blog writing? How does reading political blogs serve as a surrogate for, or form of, political activism? Are the distinctions between online and offline useful ones, or might they hide important aspects of how blogs integrate with readers’ lives?

Another related study focused on following practices in Twitter. How do people read others’ tweets? What sorts of applications on what mobile or semi-mobile devices do they use? Are there certain times throughout the day when they read tweets? Are there certain places where they do, or do not, read? In what ways do these following practices differ among Twitter users, and in what ways do they change over time? This study provides an opportunity to see what aspects of reading and readership are particular to blogs, which are particular to Twitter, and which might be common to the two.

Publications

Baumer, E.P.S., Sueyoshi, M., and Tomlinson, B. (2011). Bloggers and Readers Blogging Together: Collaborative Co-Creation of Political BlogsComputer Supported Cooperative
Work
, 20(1-2), 1-36.