Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conceptions of Social Computing: A Blog Analysis

In this posting, I would like to discuss the blog post made by Zornic (Jan 8, 2011) entitle “[UPDATED] Democratic Rep. Grabrielle Giffords, 18 Others Shot at Even in Arizona; Judge, Child among Dead”. The discussion starts with identification of blog characteristics, elements, and structures. Analyzing the relation of what I identified with prior research about blogging will be following the discussion. The discussion closes with definition of social computing and identification of it impact to social life.

Blog’s Identification

Zornick posted the blog about shooting tragedy of Giffords on Jan 8. 2010 at 2:14 pm. The Blog post was published on, which is a news-blog post from Center for American Progress Action Fund. In the title, author put the word UPDATE in parentheses with capitalized to show that this blog was showed the update of what happened after the tragedy. Blog post were made as describe what happened with quoted statements from eminent politicians, such as Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Kelly, and President Barack Obama. The text-post was featured with pictures as well as links to other blog post related with the topic. There are 13 links of resources provided. The list of those cited resources was posted at the end of the blog post.

The blogger allowed readers to mashup the blog post with other social networking tools. When it was retrieved, January 11, 2011 at 08.30PM, the blog post had been tweeted by 46 users and liked by 857 Facebook users. In total, 1891 comments were posted for this blog. The blog comment area was featured with “like” tab and “reply” tab. In the comments, it was clear those readers not only commenting, but they were arguing, insulting one another, and flagging other reader’s comments. For examples, “So don't put your stupid words into my mouth”, “go f*** yourself you subhuman f***”, “Look in the mirror you Leftist hate monger!”, and “This comment was flagged for review.” The blog post comments can also being shorts in fourth modes: popular now, best rating, newest first, and older first. The blog post can be subscribed with email or RSS feed. Links for users to contact the blogger and make a donation, advertisements, blog rolls, and archives drop down menu are some additional features that can be found on this blog.


According to Blood (2002), blog genre can be divided into filters, personal journals, and notebooks. While as, Krishnamurthy (2002) categorize blog genre into fourth, which are online diaries, support group, enhanced column, and collaborative content. Enhanced column on Krishnamurthy by Halavais (2002) and Herring, Scheidt, Bonus, and Wright (2004) was identified has the same characteristics with filters. Zornic’s blog (Jan 8, 2011) can be categorized as filters blog. Where the blog post has these three characteristics: 1) the blog post content are about current events, which just happened and has a big impact to people, especially for people in Arizona, USA; 2) the blogs were posted for external information; and 3) readers can react and make a comment to the events in the blog comment area. In term of structural features, the blog has most of feature mentioned on Herring, et al. (2004). Those freatures are “archives, badges, images, comments allowed, link to email blog author, ads, and search function (p.7)”.

Blogging sites have improved in quantity and quality. Design recommendation mentioned on Nardi, Schiano, and Gumbrech (2004) for improving blogging systems was mostly accomplished being embedded on current blogging sites, including the blog that analyzed in this post. The figure below showed the relation of what being recommended by Nardi et al. (2004) with the existing blogging structures and features.

In the analyzed blog, Zornic (Jan 8, 2011), we can also see the mashups mentioned by Beer and Burrows (2007) happened. Most of blogging sites, like this one is now mashups with web 2.0 tools. Zornic’s blog enables the reader for tweeting the blogs, using Facebook to show their like the blog, printing friendly the blog, and feeding the blog with RSS or email. With the possibility to link the blog post with other popular social networking websites such as, Twitter and Facebook will increase the popularity of the blog.

In one hand, the development of social computing has positive impacts that we mentioned which are more features and more options. On the other hand, it also has negative impacts for social life. Some of these negative impacts mentioned by Boyd and Ellison (2007) are difficulty on differentiate the truth and not truth, difficulty on controlling privacy, and change in social interaction online. These negative impacts clearly can be identified from Zornick’s blog (Jan 8, 2011). When the tragedy happened, the blogger want to deliver the information quickly, while as the information still not being verified. The blogger could not explain the accuracy of information, except mentioned some unverified information. When the comment of blog posting is enabling for everyone, there is a possibility of coming in to the comment post, the inappropriate posting. The blogger seems try to maintain the comment by flagging inappropriate comments, but other inappropriate comments still keep come into the comment forum. Moreover, disagreeing on posting, and different on political ideology, religion, ethnicity, etc. caused the readers of this blog involved on online conflict, which is the latent functionality of the social computing.


Social computing is a study that concern about the emerging and transforming of social behavior with the improvement of communication and interaction through the online platform. The online platform can be blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging (IM), etc. The positive aspects of improvement in social computing are 1) news and information can be broadcasted quickly to the entire world people without restriction of time and region; 2) people can have collaboration on improving knowledge and research; and 3) the free version of the tools can be used as an alternative to replace pay version software. The negative impact of social computing are 1) challenge of the quality and trustiness of information; 2) challenge on providing privacy and security for sites/tools users; and 3) challenge on developing suitable ethic regarding to copyright and property rights.


Blood, R. (2002). The weblog handbook: Practical advice on creating and maintaining your blog. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub.

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Retrieved from

Halavais, A. (2002). Blogs and the “Social Weather. Internet Research 30.

Herring, S. C., Scheidt, L. A., Bonus, S., & Wright, E. (2004). Bridging the gap: A genre analysis of weblogs. 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2004 Proceedings of the (Vol. 0, pp. 101-111). Ieee. Retrieved from

Krishnamurthy, S. (2002). The Multidimensionality of Blog Conversations: The Virtual Enactment of September 11. Internet Research 30 (Vol. 3).

Nardi, B. A., Schiano, D. J., & Gumbrecht, M. (2004). Blogging as social activity, or, would you let 900 million people read your diary? Proceedings of the 2004 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work CSCW 04 (Vol. 6, pp. 222-231). ACM Press. Retrieved from

Zornic, G., (Jan 8, 2011). [UPDATED] Democratic Rep. Grabrielle Giffords, 18 Others Shot at Even in Arizona; Judge, Child among Dead. Retrieved from

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Anonymous said...

Can you make the table bigger? Is hard for me to see what you write in side the table.

Rich Gazan said...

Very interesting post; one of the consequences of your analysis seems to be that the inciting event scarcely matters, and that people use these stories as little more than an arena in which to argue and insult one another.

The content of an article, blog or other commentary might therefore be seen as an arsenal of proof for particular interpretations, and the act of mashing up content is designed not to share information, but to ground previously held views.

Erenst said...

You really dissected a single blog entry on the incident into each of its elements in high detail.
It is interesting to see then from there that once an opinion or information [whether factual or not] goes online can be rebroadcasted in so many different channels. Basically, once it is out there on the Internet, it will stay out there just waiting for someone to dig it up for some purposes, good or bad, in the future.
With such high level of interaction beyond the story item itself, sometimes the interactive 'noises' can take a life of its own. I recognized this from my own ventures reading the comment section of news article. Sometimes, I completely forgot what was the issue being discussed, getting deep into the banter between the commentators.
Thus, like Rich said, the substance only became a platform to launch rather polarized ideological debate that goes nowhere.

Guy said...

While reading this, the thing that stuck out most was what Professor Gazan mentioned, that people seem to be using the shooting as a way to provoke and attack each other on their pre-existing beliefs. While there is some genuine focus on the actual event, there are all sorts of random hate scattered throughout the comments. Towards the end of the comments, that seems to be all that is going on, the actual story long forgotten. It reminds me of a semi-popular internet meme that I see every now and then, of which I found an example here. While it doesn't fit the argument here exactly, I feel it's fairly close.

Caloha said...

It is true that some have used the Arizona shooting to provoke and attack others on preexisting beliefs, and may have even used the shooting to further causes or individual publicity.

How about this, until being assigned by Dr. Gazan to take a look at this incident, other than hearing about it briefly on the news.. I had not bothered finding out any details- it seems I may have become desensitized to such acts of violence that the only thing that really affected me was knowing a nine year old girl died in the shooting..

Julia said...

Thanks for that link Guy, it seems crazy but many times is so true, no matter what the discussion is about. People often act so different in social media than in real life, and the mashup of all these different online communities just encourages this I think. With news and opinions coming at us from all sides, sometimes it's hard to keep a cool head, and even the most rational person may end up posting something that offends someone else.
On the other hand, as Caloha mentioned, all this information flooding us from all sides, that we see no longer only through regular news media bur that follows us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, may desensitize us in some way to events like this. I personally completely "overlooked" Facebook friends talking about it and it only really got through to me when I saw it mentioned again in a Livejournal post, which I guess says something about the importance I internally assign to different social networks.

HansomeAvatar said...

My prior research on YouTube videos’ comment had a similar pattern with comments on the blog that I choose for this analysis. Comments on a blog or a SNS that not related with content of the post are a good example for showing the “latent function” of online discussions. Even though, the blogger can try for moderating the comments, but when the comments growth quickly by the popularity of an event, the control seems useless. With the boosting of information about this shooting, we know more about what inside the head of people, what people thinking about a matter. We will never know what they don’t agree one another without they written down on these posting.

Thank you to all of your comment. These comments have sharpened what I am thinking about. Moreover, these comments are giving me inspiration for thinking what I am going to post later.

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