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The Personal Weblog

A Linguistic History


Peter Schildhauer

This book outlines a coherent genre history of the personal weblog from the perspective of media linguistics. An analysis of a diachronic corpus (1997–2012) suggests distinct phases in the history of the genre. In addition to media linguistics, the author draws on methods from textual and corpus linguistics as well as the social sciences. He traces the personal weblog’s various relations to different on- and offline genres and describes the blog communication form as well as the communicative situation, structural features and several posting genres characteristic of personal weblogs. The findings are embedded into theoretical considerations on genre change in general as well as stability and change of web-based genres in particular.
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9 Theoretical Concerns


In this chapter, I’d like to re-visit several aspects discussed in this book and interpret them in the light of two theoretical concerns. First, I’ll look at questions of explaining genre change. Referring to the mechanisms introduced in 1.5.5, regenerative cycle and Keller’s Invisible Hand Theory, I’ll try to explain selected aspects of the history of the personal weblog. I’ll then broaden the view to include issues of stability and change in web-based genres in general.

9.1 The Invisible Hand in the History of the Personal Weblog

Let’s reflect on the spread of the post genre sharing experience after the advent of accessible blog systems. This new blog communication offered a way of fulfilling two basic human needs: the need for social contact and for sharing subjectively-important events. Some of the new blog-systems were highly accessible and, therefore, relatively undemanding in terms of financial and cognitive effort (4.2). In that way, they met another basic human need: Economy.184 Composing a sharing experience post is an individual communicative act, but of course, not only one but many authors used the new blog communication form in such a way in order to meet their need for contact and sharing in an economical way. Particularly in the beginning, we can assume that these individual authors acted independently from one another. These intentional individual acts cumulated in the following results:

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