Category: MA Thesis


History of Winer’s Blogging points to October 7, 1994

In my 2008 thesis on ‘Blogging for Engines. Blogs under the Influence of Software-Engine Relations‘ in the chapter on the History of Blog Software and Blog Engines I wrote about Dave Winer’s role within the pre-blog BBS-scene and his DaveNet (1994) and Scripting News (1997). Back then I used the Internet Archive to track down the history of the early blogosphere and Rudolf Ammann is using the same technique. Dave Winer actually responded to his blog post on ‘Scripting News: Launched on 1 February 1997‘ that if we were to point to DaveNet as a blog (with its reverse-chronological entries) that October 7, 1994 is the day it all started for Dave Winer. That’s 13 years of blogging. Congratulations!

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“Being offline is becoming a choice.” Interview with me on WordCast

Last night I was interviewed by the great guys from WordCast about my research on WordPress, teaching social media and blogging classes and personal blogging experiences. We talked about the tight relationship between blog software and search engines that caused the implementation of the nofollow attribute on comment links in an attempt to combat spam. This deal shows one of the main differences between blog services and self-hosted blogs as the latter allow users to subvert the defaults by installing a dofollow plugin. We also talked about my social media addiction that started in 1995 and about being offline. In contrast to the early days of the web it is very hard to be offline nowadays. We are nearing an era where being offline is a choice instead of being online. Fred Stutzman, a doctoral student on social media, actually developed the application Freedom for our era “in which our computers resist encroachments of connectivity.” I’m guess I’m not the only social media PhD student for whom being offline doesn’t come naturally. Listen to the whole episode: WordCast Conversations 8: Anne Helmond on SEO and Social Media

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Speaking at WordCampNL in Utrecht

I will be speaking (in English) at the first WordCampNL edition in Utrecht on 31 October 2009. I will be presenting my research on Blogging for Engines filled with updates and practical implications for bloggers. Please join us if you’re interested in blogging/WordPress and I hope to see you there! Summary: Blogging is often seen as a new form of journalism, an online diary or a democratising medium which potentially gives every citizen a voice. However, what can we say about blogging and the blogosphere if we look at blogs from within the medium? In other words, what is blogging when we look at the software blogs are made with? Anne Helmond graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a study on WordPress, the leading blog software. This research focuses on how blog software and search engines arose at the same time (1999) and have since established a tight relationship. What does this mean for bloggers, blogs and the blogosphere if we look beyond search engine optimization?

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Blogging for Engines. Blogs under the Influence of Software-Engine Relations

In February I graduated cum laude with a thesis on blog software and search engines titled ‘Blogging for Engines. Blogs under the Influence of Software-Engine Relations.’ It aims to add the study of software-engine relations to the emerging field of Software Studies, which may open up a new avenue in the field by accounting for the increasing entanglement of the engines with software thus further shaping the field. This thesis wishes to contribute to the understanding of blogs by approaching blogs as both a medium and bi-product of practice that are both entangled in software-engine relations. In the history of blogging both the medium and practice are constantly being shaped by the search and indexing engines. Not only did the introduction of the ‘nofollow’ attribute have a major impact on the construction of the blogosphere, it also points to how the blogger is (un)willingly entangled in a relationship that the blog software establishes with the engines. The common blog practices of tagging, social bookmarking and the obsessive checking of blog statistics raise the question if we are now blogging to feed the engines. Continue to read an excerpt of my PhD proposal to continue my research on software-engine relations, or […]

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Video, slides and notes from my presentation on Software-Engine Relations at HASTAC II and SoftWhere 2008

Download the hi-resolution Quicktime movie from the SoftWhere08 website. | View | Upload your own Software-engine relations in the blogosphere Thank you very much for inviting me. My name is Anne Helmond and I am currently a New Media Lecturer at the Media Studies department at the University of Amsterdam. I also work at the Institute of Network Cultures, an Amsterdam based media research center. I am focusing my current research on software-engine relations, analyzing the entanglement of the engines into software. I would like to propose to redefine the current perception we have of the blogger because people might think of the blogger as a pajama clad revolutionary or the lonely writer who sits in the dark in his room. However, the blogger is an active researcher. One would have to admit that the main amount of this activity is engine based. A lot of research is done via engines, it is engine work. Then one starts to think about engines and bloggers and how are the software-engine relations are build into the medium and practice of blogging. Then one would have to think about the engines: What is missing from the current studies into software is the recognition […]

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The widgetized self and the modding user in the blogosphere

Last week I gave a talk on ‘The Widgetized Self. Distributed identity and the role of software-engine relations in blogging.’ Blogs may be seen as databases that allow for various types of identity construction. The use of themes, plugins and widgets play an important role in the blogging identity. Edial Dekker, New Media student at the University of Amsterdam, wrote about my lecture for the Dutch communication blog Spotlighteffect. His blogpost (in Dutch) has the provoking title: “The role of widgets. Nerds are more personal” which refers to the fact that expressing your identity through technology such as blog software still requires knowledge of the code. If you want to change the defaults you need to be able to install plugins or manually adjust php or CSS. In blogging we can distinguish several types of identity formation that coexist together and contribute to each other: the default identity (with default themes and templates) the drag and drop identity (choosing your plugins and widgets) the distributed identity (using the blog as a centralized force to collect your distributed self) the database identity (those who actually use their blog as a database of the self) The blog is a database that supplies different ways for identity construction. On […]

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