Blogging and Research Revisited

Richard McManus offers a compelling argument for privileging “topics” rather than authorship as a key term in organizing the blogosphere. McManus is responding to an assertion by Clay Shirky that favors authorship as the key term for organizing blogs:

The weblog world has taken the 4 elements of organization from mailing lists and usenet — overall topic, time of post, post title, author — and rearranged them in order of importance as author, time, and title, dispensing with topics altogether.

One of McManus’s strongest arguments is that organizing blogs by authorship can be “elitist,” with the potential to exclude alternative voices. I think he’s certainly right, and, as the disussion earlier this week implies, we need more flexible ways of “mapping” the blogosphere. But I am also well aware of the fact that authorship is an important factor in my interpretation of any text (written, musical, filmic, bloggish), so I absolutely do not want to dispense with the category altogether, and I think that McManus’s emphasis on content (“I’d rather just read and write about topics that are of interest to me, thanks”) elides this fact. Of course my blogroll, which is organized by author/title, reproduces the logic of authorship. But because we’ve been discussing similar issues the last few days, I thought I’d bring up this point as well.

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