Study sheds light on habits and roles of blog readers

April 10th, 2008 - 1:08 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Apr 10 (ANI): A new study conducted by University of California Irvine researchers has shed light on the blog readers online habits and experiences, as well as how they perceive their roles in blog-based communities.

The first-of-its-kind study, led by Eric Baumer, doctoral candidate at UCIs Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences; Mark Sueyoshi, international studies and East Asian cultures undergraduate student; and Bill Tomlinson, informatics professor, focuses primarily on blog reading.

The UCI study examined in-depth the blog-reading habits of 15 participants of various ages to determine how they consume content and interact with blogs and blog writers.

The research found that some readers frequently post comments, while in others lurk, or visit without commenting.

The researchers found that readers have diverse opinions of what makes a blog a blog. Academic definitions generally refer to blogs as frequently modified Web pages with dated entries listed in reverse chronological order.

But study participants identified a wide variety of characteristics in what they considered to be blogs. These included both technical aspects like RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and trackback links, as well as social aspects, including the presence of conversation or personal content.

Regular blog reading often becomes more habitual and less content oriented. Similar to e-mail checking, blog reading can become ingrained into users online routine. Sometimes, even the usefulness of the blog content itself can be less vital than the activity of reading or skimming the blog to fulfill a persons particular routine, the study found.

The study found that the timing of a blog post is not nearly as relevant to readers as its position among the other entries. Readers are more likely to read the most recent posts at the top of the screen, and are generally less concerned with the exact age of a post.

A vast majority of participants said they were not bothered when they were not able to read each and every blog post, challenging a common theory that users tend to feel overwhelmed by the need to remain constantly up to date.

With the increased popularity of blogs, various tools like Blogger and Movable Type have made writing a blog easy for a wide audience, said Baumer, who studies informatics a discipline that focuses on the use of information technology in real-world settings.

But, until the technology embraces the role of the audience, the full social potential of blogging remains untapped. One of the goals of this research is to stimulate the development of tools to foster that social potential in terms of both readers and bloggers, Baumer added. (ANI)

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