31 October 2006

Blog Sociology

Today the always witty and often challenging Acephalous makes an intriguing observation regarding the nature of blog participation:
As of 7:11 p.m. this evening—exactly 24 hours since my last post hit the 'Net—I've heard from 37 people on the blog and another 211 via email. I must say: I never realized how great the gulf separating commenter from lurker was until today. A fairly substantial community of people who don't even know they belong to a community encircles my evening blather.

Despite devoting today's spare brain cycles to spinning Lurk Theory, I'm no closer to understanding its appeal—not because I think less of lurkers, but because I'm constitutionally incapable of not speaking up when I feel so inclined. I know some people are better at biting their tongues than others, but I lack the requisite imagination to understand why.

Bits of my brain scream GENDER POLITICS! but I really don't think that's the case. If my (outrageously unscientific) survey is any indication, my readership is overwhelmingly female. Why are most of my readers female but most of my commenters male?
I can't speak to the gender of my visitors-- because I never hear from most of you! --but I do wonder why there isn't more participation. I get a fairly respectable amount of traffic-- between 200 and 300 page views a day, with an average of 100 repeat visitors daily --but there are really only four or five people who ever comment. All of this makes me wonder whether my blog isn't a source of amusement like watching a really bad film that's so terrible you just can't turn the channel, or like slowing down for a car accident. At any rate, what is it that promotes discussion on a blog and what is it that tends to promote lurkerdome? I'm not holding my breath expecting answers, though you're always free to email me if you're shy in public, you know.


Blogger Scott Eric Kaufman said...

Seems only appropriate I de-lurk to explain my lurking here—only, I don't think my reasons for lurking here apply to my blog. (May be the inevitability of me being, well, me, but we'll see.)

I read you regularly, and frequently begin to write comments, but then I run smack into my own monolithic ignorance and decide not to. While I'm more familiar with the people you write about than the average academic—with the exception of Badiou, whom I've barely read at all—I'm not comfortably conversant with their thought the way you are. I can saddle my psychoanalytic hobby-horse, but in that particular case I think the divide between you and I impassable, so I bite my tongue. Not for civility's sake, mind you, but because undermining the foundations of another person's thought isn't something to be undertaken lightly in a comment box. I could try to convince you to turn away from psychoanalysis as I did, but that'd be counterproductive. Plus, despite not believing in the system, I do appreciate the subtlety of thought. (That sounds like a backhanded complement, but I don't mean it to be.) The short version of this would be, I suppose, that I read some blogs to learn, some to spar. I feel like I learn more here than I would were I to spar, so I lurk. This is why I don't think my reason for lurking here is why people lurk at my place.

Because really, what are people going to learn from reading me?

October 31, 2006 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a good point, Scott, about different types of blogs: some you read to learn, others to spar.

And in answer to Levi's complaints, I think Larval Subjects is mostly a place to learn even if I try to spar (or more precisely to ask for more to learn).

Of course, it's gratifying to have many comments, but be careful what you ask for, Levi, since you'll have trouble keeping up your tactful civility of reacting to each comment.

And as you mention in your recent post "Contagious Communication" a few (repeated) drops in the channels of communication might turn into a tsunami that could break down even ancient structures of thought.

Maybe you're right about communication (also with the aim of political change): Blogging should be clogging.

You are a manic-depressive blogger ;-). Frenzied spurts of hyper-energy are followed by several days of depressed silence.

Maybe you should give us our medication in small daily doses.

Keep it up,

Orla Schantz

P.S. I'm still very interested in your thoughts about the question I posed in an earlier conversation:

Can we - in some form - bridge the gap between dirty political reality and philosophy and integrate Deleuze's concept of repetition and difference. I need your help and erudition here.

Deleuze himself managed to be politically active in the streets, so to speak, and make some kind of combination or dialectics between the world of politics and academe.

Or was this just possible in his leftist Vincennes university environment and the French political uprising in the heyday of '68?

October 31, 2006 2:48 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Then there is the sheer pleasure of listening to the voices of Acephalous, Larval Subjects, and the other folks who have become a daily reading staple for me. Rambling about and listening to the echo of voices I admire adds spice to the day. I can no longer imagine giving it up for any reason, even if there is something a little lurid with lurking about.

November 01, 2006 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Scott, you are very generous in your response. I especially appreciate your magnanimity with regard to not attacking foundations. I wish I were similarly restrained on occasion. I'm not sure how deeply committed to any particular position, including any specific orientation in psychoanalysis. I tend to inhabit a particular system of thought until I encounter a point where it explodes or my interests shift. My psychoanalytic commitment primarily revolve around the specific structure of the analyst-analysand relation and the manner in which the analyst strives to abdicate the position of the master.

November 01, 2006 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn, you voyeur!

November 01, 2006 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Orla, I'll try to respond to what you're getting at in the near future. At the moment I'm coming down with the flu and am not thinking very clearly. One point, worth noting, is that for Deleuze concepts themselves result from processes of individuation and are responses to specific problematic fields. Deleuze sometimes spoke, if memory serves me correctly, of "extracting" concepts. Someone here recently provided links to a website on surfing in response to one of my posts. The implicit suggestion seemed to be that there is a concept to be extracted from surfing. I'm not a surfer, nor particularly interested in surfing, but the point of such an extraction isn't to represent surfing or even about surfing. Rather, the concept of surfing, were one to construct one, becomes deterritorialized from any particular activity and comes to relate to other domains of existing. Similar principles would apply in the domain of politics. For instance, you recently indicated that you believe class struggle and traditional Marxist politics is dated. This suggests to me that you don't think such a politics responds to the problematic field in which we find ourselves individuated today. What might a Marxism responsive to the changes of this problematic field look like today? What concepts must be forged? What individuations must take place? What new collectives must be envisioned and produced? WHat technologies must be constructed to call forth these collectivities? And so on and so on. I'm rambling.

November 01, 2006 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

I must sound like a mad hypochondriac. I go on these writing sprees and always come back saying that I'm either sick or depressed afterwards... For some reason this makes me think of Klossowski's _Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle_.

November 01, 2006 10:43 AM  

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