Collaborative project: How to sample blogs?

We have been thinking about how we are going to sample blogs for a project on the design principles of blogs – we are going to look at parenting blogs on food. We need to develop a set of criteria from the different positions of the team to develop a shared sampling frame for selecting a purposive sample of blogs.One problem is – well what is a blog! We have to define what we mean by a blog for the purpose of this project  – will it be a technical definition, the social/function definition, something the author-defines as a blog?
Some potential areas for generating criteria we discussed included:

  • Substantive /domain of parenting and food – but then will we look at food from the everyday or the ritual (specific meal-times, religious or national meal time events)
  • What kinds of multimodal features and principles do we want to capture in this sample?
  • What kinds of narrative features and principles might we want to capture
  • What social media features and principles?
  • I guess we want to get different genres – but do we want the celebrity chefs?
  • What forms/ Levels of participation will we go for ?
  • Are we going to focus on the performance of the self/identity?
  • How will we sample for diversity across social factors  like age, gender, social class, sexuality

As always the start of a project is creating more questions than answers at the moment…

Author: Carey Jewitt

One response to “Collaborative project: How to sample blogs?

  1. The more I think about it the more I feel the need for some ‘external criteria’ driving our first sampling of blogs, which could let us analyse the diversity in the sample and observe the variability according to our different dimensions, eg, genre as social function, genre as formal features-templates-portals, interactivity, multimodal deployment, forms/styles of narration, mono/multi-authoring, identity building, co-construction, type of parenting etc etc.
    I’d suggest to consider food blogs that define themselves as such (and/or that others – newspapers, other blogs etc – define them as such). And I’d use some quantitative ‘crawling’ or mining for that (although I don’t have any ideas on how to do that – but I guess we could search in specialized search engines for blogs and crosscheck with the ‘blog roll’ section in each blog, ie the list of blogs linked to on any blog). Out of all these – possibly further sampled through random selection, eg one every say 100 food blogs? or the first five retrieved in each blog portal? – the domain needs to be restricted to ‘parenting food blogs’; and here, the context of ‘parenting’ would probably need to be determined by the researcher through qualitative scrutiny – maybe by a closer look at the blogger’s profile? Then, we could obtain quite a large sample where we could verify each variable we want to analyse.
    The grounds for using an external criterion is the fact that we have both ‘content’ and ‘formal’ variables we want to analyse, hence none of the two can be used to sample. Since we want to examine both the type of parenting food narrations and the representational/communicational features, we cannot use – say – type of parenting food narrative to sample blogs and see which generic features they deploy or, in turn, generic features to sample blogs and see which types of parenting food narratives they present.
    If instead we take ‘food blog’ as a label given by others to sample, then we can examine both narrative and multimodal features of the sample and crosscheck possible variability patterns.
    what do you think?

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