Sunday, April 24, 2005

Long spring break, huh?

I'm beginning to realize that there are times when blogging complements other
writing, but more often than not, blogging competes for the time. April 1 is
a big day for us in journalism & mass communication education -- the deadline
for annual AEJMC conference paper
submissions. UNC Ph.D. student Barbara Miller and I sent off a paper on the
effects of blogs on relational outcomes.

We developed some questionnaire items and built an index of the "conversational
human voice," then conducted an experiment using as part
of the stimulus to see if the characteristics of communication related positively
and measurably to relational outcomes of interest in PR theory such as trust,
satisfaction, control mutuality, etc. Searls
and Weinberger
are right (no big surprise here), these factors do appear
to correlate. Or at least they did in our study. I think time will show that
our bigger contribution will be that we started to develop some somewhat-scientific
measures of these variables that have been so important to the discussion of
blogs and their impact (i.e., the stuff Robert
talks about), at least since Cluetrain.

I've got to be careful not to "publish" the details here. This isn't
a matter of secrecy, the kind UNC journalism professor Phil Meyer talks about
being an issue for bloggers in today's Raleigh News & Observer
published in the 3/30/05 USA Today
). Rather, it's just a matter
of peer review. The blind peer reviews aren't in yet, so we're still a few steps
shy of claiming accepted results in terms of the scientific method.

Besides that paper, I'm also working on a chapter on blogs for my book on online
PR. The
Edelman/Intelliseek white paper on blogs and PR
has been useful, as have
all the critical voices out there (and I do mean real conversational human voices).

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