Spending a few months as a blogger has fundamentally altered my initial opinion of the nature of the web log. Blogging is social. Bloggers read and reflect and write. Bloggers establish an identity.

Blogging is a conversation. An individual weblog typically has a single author; however, a typical blog entry will contain one or more links. It is through these links and their associated commentary that the conversation takes place. A few standard elements of a blog contribute to this social nature:
– Comments: The comment form enables direct feedback. Any reader can comment on a blog entry, participating in the conversation without necessarily being a fellow blogger.
– Trackback: This allows readers to follow links to other blogs that mention a particular entry on this one. Not all blogs have this. It may even be specific to Moveable Type blogs (which is the software behind this particular blog).
– Links: Most web logs have a list of links on the right or left margin. These links often point to other web logs.
– Web Stats: more a standard part of a site, than a standard part of a blog. Some hosted blog sites don

A new paper by Tom Erickson, et. al, introduces several examples of a “social proxy,” a user interface element that helps people to visualize collective interactions.

“…many of the things our users report “seeing” are inferences. For example, the social proxy does not show that people are “paying attention,” only that someone has clicked or typed. Someone might be paying attention, or they might be pretending to pay attention; we believe that it is crucial to maintain such socially useful ambiguities, and it is one of the reasons we emphasize social translucence.”

Social Translucence: Designing Social Infrastructures that Make Collective Activity Visible