Blogs: Resonance and online relations

Lilia Efimova on her blog – http://blog.mathemagenic.com/ – seems also to be asking questions about how and why some relationships can be formed, developed and sustained in  blogs. She asks the question: What exactly helps to establish and maintain personal relations via blogging? and suggests that one answer to this question might be in the frequency of communication and in the use of multi-channels of communication.

Some research that I’ve recently been involved in suggests that it’s a bit more than this – and that the strongest ties are formed between people who not only communicate frequently via different channels, but also are engaged in collaboration around a joint activity. My experience is that once this activity stops, then the ties weaken.

Lilia suggests that the relation between a pair of people includes three dimensions of connection: affinity, commitment and attention. I am intrigued at her point that affinity is achieved through activities of social bonding – touching, eating and drinking together. This has come at a time when I have increasingly noticed how many people on Facebook, in their blogs etc. tell us about their recent meal. But I wonder if this is a spill over from forum online socialisation activities (designed by tutors) which are often used to encourage participants to get to know each other through describing their favourite meal or retiring to the virtual cafe to socialise. It’s difficult to know whether this is really a characteristic of affinity or a norm of online socialisation.

Commitment is described by Lilia as being  manifested through the effort of reading others’ weblogs, repeated interaction and maintaining your own presence via weblogs and other channels. I see commitment as something a bit larger than this – I prefer the word ‘reciprocity’, which also takes commitment, but requires some ‘giving back’. I’m not sure though whether most bloggers would agree. My feeling is that blogging can often be a one-way form of communication – from blogger to ‘out there’.

What I’m interested in is how blog relationships might be different to relationships formed through other media – how and why these blogging connections are made, and whether bloggers have specific characteristics that enable them to make these relationships via their blogs.

Thanks to Lilia for her post.

3 thoughts on “Blogs: Resonance and online relations

  1. Matthias Melcher May 8, 2009 / 6:47 pm

    I am not sure if it needs MANY communication channels or even a collaboration, but one SECOND channel seems to be a necessary ingredient, which is an indicator for commitment/ reciprocity/ attention/ appreciation.

    Similarly, a second shared interest or preference (beyond the blog’s topical focus) is necessary for affinity and bonding, which can be much less than a shared meal but can be as trivial as a similar liking of landscapes such as the picture on your blog.

  2. suifaijohnmak May 9, 2009 / 5:10 am

    Hi Jenny and Matthias,
    I have sent you emails in response to this.
    I echo with both of your views in that it depends on the levels of relationships. For me, these could be based on
    (a) social pleasantries
    (b) facts
    (c) thoughts and ideas
    (d) feelings
    Whilst most bloggers may be sharing (a) to (c) in their postings, deep relationships could only likely form with (a) to (d) plus an intuition and “sixth senses” to be “close friends” that couldn’t be explained – like Matthias saying of the picture he likes.
    However, there could be a bell shaped curve in some relationships building and development amongst bloggers, as more intense connections may or may not yield fruitful relationships as there could be conflicts, misunderstanding, annoyance, and distancing of opinions. There might however be long term relationships for certain bloggers.
    To be continued…
    Jenny, this is stimulatig and exciting, thanks for your post.
    John

  3. Matthias Melcher May 23, 2009 / 10:54 am

    It is also interesting to contrast your notion of resonance with the features that make Mr. Sanger disillusioned with web 2.0: Instead of resonating he describes agreement requirements which lead to groupthink. And if you look closer to his description of the faceless Internet acquaintances, they are at best people who shared one very special interest, not several.

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