He finds that the hope for a comment culture, the reflective element of participative learning, has not yet been fulfilled, and that weblogs are rather monological and only few threads are emerging.
He reports three studies, two by his students (about history blogs and corporate blogs) and one of his own (about his edu colleagues’ blogs). This part contains quantitative and qualitative analysis of the weblogs. I tried to extract the central statements from the lengthy “conclusions” section and translated them (unprofessionally).
“The hope of higher education pedagogy must lie in the comment culture, the reflective element of participative learning,
“Weblog could possibly be of outstanding relevance”, but for the time being, this remains a hope.
Weblogs are a “rather monological form of expression”, only few threads are emerging.
With the most bloggers, the frequency of contributions is too low to be truly present, the kind of contributions is usually very miscellaneous or follows a schema (see Ebner and Robes). With many, the share of own knowledge is low, they are referencing external sources and disseminating secondary knowledge.
The other weblogs of this sample, however, do not contain a topic that is discussed for a longer time or repeatedly (some of the Geschichtsblog do) but offer a kaleidoscope of constantly varying topics. What remains is — to use the title of Baumgartner’s blog — “thought splints” being offered in the blogs.
“one is reading the thought snippets of the like-minded in weblogs and one rarely takes the time for the voluminous originals and the demanding monographs. What is emerging in this way, are not scholarly schools of thought as anciently, and not genuine disourse circles, either, but citation cartels.” “[Quoting himself].
“”Commented link lists are channeling the attention” … The same is intended implicitly by blogrolls, trackbacks, pingbacks, and tweetbacs, they are channeling the attention or “splinting” the reader’s attention. Since there are very many of them one may suspect that they are distracting the attention from carefully reading and may provoke hypertext-analogical jump behaviour.
Already in quantitative respect, the comments are meagre, the 554 posts received 533 comments,
Predominantly, the comments are rather short, usually too short for a real argumentation.
the kind of comments raises little hope for discourses and a genuine comment culture. They fulfill social functions, give positive feedback, congratulate, affirm, and encourage.
Weblogs exist predominantly for the communique of one’s own voice.”
I would note that the average number of comments does not reveal one of the major benefits of blog reactions: The selection which posts found a resonance and which did not, and by whom, and what aspects were selected, provides valuable insight for the author. Similarly, the mentioned social functions (give positive feedback, congratulate, affirm, and encourage) do contribute to the substantial, topical discourse by their selection.
Another point is that reactions among blogs are not limited to explicit comments. Often, the initial post is already a reaction to another contribution. And If the discourse is continued in another blog, this is not always reflected by trackbacks or pingbacks, due to spam fighting.