Analysis of “Understanding Society”

As you all have known, my intentions for creating this blog is to further my and your knowledge about the art of interaction. This has been attempted by trying to analyze the basic principles of jargon and syntax. Also I have tried to go deeper into the subject of how today’s modern society uses language, gestures and body language. While I was looking for similar blogs to analyze for the benefit of my blog, I came across this blog entitled “Understanding Society” created by a man named Daniel Little. Its focus is to better understand the large social forces that affect us today. This blog was very similar to the objective of my blog, but with a little more scholarly activity and purpose.  While my blog serves the purpose of better understanding how we as human being interact with each other, this is a site about social progress and social change. It discusses all aspects of the topic of social progress of change within our society including language, which relates back to my blog. However, there is a major difference between our blogs. The major difference is the effectiveness to attract and maintain an audience. While my blog has attracted little to no viewers/commenters, “Understanding Society” has attracted and kept a large sized audience. What makes this particular blog so successful in this aspect of blogging? Well there are a multitude of things that contribute to the successfulness of this particular blog.

The first thing that caught my attention on “Understanding Society’s” blog page was the number of tabs and links available to the viewer. Just on first glances of the home page, available to the viewers are twenty hyperlinks/tabs to click on. What this does is it makes the website easy to navigate from page to page which attracts people who look at the webpage. Also, the fact that there are so many hyperlinks and pages keeps the audience interested in the things being spoken about. Seeing this many pages and links make one want to click and explore. It feels like going through a maze, but in a website. While in a real life maze there are many turns and paths to follow, likewise navigating this blog site puts one through an adventure on the computer. Going along with the use of hyperlinks/tabs, the website is very friendly to the eye. While not so flashy or showy, it presents a simple theme to the viewer. It makes it easy to find exactly what the viewer is looking for. The theme choice compliments the topic of the blog nicely because the colors of black, grey, and white suggest that the webpage is not for fun, but for educational reasons and goals. If they had chosen to use bright colors, then the viewer would find it as a joke and only for the entertainment of themselves instead of learning about society and furthering the discussion presented.

Hyperlinking and themes fit into the category of multimodality. By using much multimodal features, “Understanding Society” attracts the audience and keeps their full attention. When someone searches through the tabs they find a variety of multimodal features. This includes pictures, slide shows, videos, and audio. Talking about the subject of changing society presents many topics of discussion. These topics are included in videos of interviews of scholars and professors.  The site very flexible in the sense that if you don’t prefer to watch the video, you can perhaps click on the audio link and close your eyes to listen to the same exact interview. There are also many interviews to look through. While the videos and audio can be long, they give much insight and ideas to the topic of change in society. The interviewees talk about many topics which contribute to the blogs main questions of the blog, which are, “Can we think more clearly about the basic conceptual and methodological assumptions we make about social science inquiry? And can we arrive at more compelling foundations for thinking about what social progress in the twenty-first century will require?”

The different topics brought up by these scholars and professors do something that keeps the blog alive. It creates discourse. The ongoing discussion in this blog has been happening for more than three years. This shows that the discourse in this topic is has been thoroughly discussed. What these interviewees have done is further the discussion and spark more interest in the blog site. This is a huge aspect in keeping the viewers to come back to the blog and to participate in the discussion. Within this discourse community, we find interesting people supporting all types of topics and sharing their viewpoints, positions, and ideas. To have a contributing audience is big in the blogging world because it keeps the blogger engaged in the discussion. Being able to read others ideas makes one want to give feedback. The viewers start wanting to write more and more and start wanting to come back more and more until the blog becomes a worldwide site. People included in this discourse community are scholars, teachers and professors.

Something that comes from any discourse community is voice. Every person that participates in the discussion has a distinct voice. Through this voice, bloggers are able to create an online personality that distinguishes themselves from other people. In chapter one of Aaron Barlows book Blogging America: The New Public Sphere Kenneth Burke is quoted saying, “When a superstructure of certainties begins to topple, individual minds are correspondingly affected, since the mind is a social product, and our very concepts of character depend upon the verbalizations of our group…” Here Burke is saying that voice is affected by our discourse community, and using this voice affects individuals minds. So the blogger in this case, Daniel Little, has an immediate affect on the audience reading his blog posts. The voice that Little presents has an inviting feel to it. As you read the introduction to the blog on the home page, it seems as though he is speaking directly to you personally. For example, after posing questions that the blog purposes to answer, he writes, “I invite you to join in this emerging international conversation.” The viewer can see from his voice that he is a serious person that is looking for feedback, making them want to join the conversation.

Although he presents a pleasing voice, how can the audience be sure that they are not simply wasting their time visiting the site? How does the blog’s creator establish credibility? Although the author presents his own ideas and opinions, he establishes credibility by supplying his audience with the research tab. In this tab, the audience is able to see where he gets his information from. He has numerous amounts of hyperlinks that are given to the audience, which he bases his opinions and ideas off of. This creates trust between he and the audience because the audience gets to know the source of his ideas. Also they realize that he is not just making things up out of thin air, but creating them logically by analyzing the content of correct information. Going along with this use of ethos, the author makes his site public for all to see. If the site was private, then it would affect the number of people who visit the site. Being a public website allows the viewers to realize that it is a website that is open to all. Contrary to that of a public website, a private one is put together by someone who only wants personal opinions to be a focus point, and probably only made the site for friends that agree with the creator of the blog. Making the site public invites those of opposite backgrounds to help contribute to the helping the cause of the blog.

With the blog being public, it tends to make the blog have allot more views and comments then that of a private blog. This blog has some comments on certain posts here and there, but the big achievement is the views. This has attracted an audience of over 23,000 viewers. Now this is a big feat to accomplish. Maintaining an audience of this size is difficult, but the author is able to do so without a problem. How? Well in chapter 3 of Blogging America: The New Public Sphere, we find a list of facts that makes a blog successful. On page 75 list number 2 describes one rule as this: “…bloggers do best when they post early and often…” Understanding Society is a blog that presents this post early and often rule very nicely. As we can see in the blog, the latest post is only one day old. So this proves to be true because the blog benefits from this use of posting early and often by attracting a large crowd of scholars. Also going along with the postings, the author uses twitter to connect with his viewers and to stay engaged in his discussion. Using such online social networking has proved to be useful because almost everybody has some sort of system such as Facebook or twitter which allows them to see the most recent updates and statuses. He uses twitter to tell his viewers about current news updates that relate back to the main purpose of the blog.

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