I'm giving a paper tomorrow to the Religious Studies postgraduate community, presenting some thoughts on blogs as authoritative texts for emerging Christian communities. It's a prelude to a chapter I'm composing for a forthcoming collection called Reading Spiritualities edited by fellow Lancastrians Deborah F. Sawyer and Dawn Llewellyn.
I'm exploring notions of authorship in the blogosphere, in conjunction with some thoughts on authority. I'm using data from a Technorati search for "emerging church" blogs (dated June 18 2007) to problematise this way of defining and measuring blog 'authority.' At the moment, in the chapter, I also aim to investigate author (blogger) demographics and comment on whether or not a hierarchy of literature is present among emerging Christian bloggers. In the future, I might attempt to teach myself Social Network Analysis to map linking patterns through the emerging corner(s) of the blogosphere and to identify 'authorities' and 'hubs.' But that's beyond my thesis at the moment, I think!
I've found Cameron Marlow's work a great starting point for thinking about these issues, as well as several pieces by Lilia Efimova et al on defining blog communities. Studying the discursive constructions of what a 'blog' is, Mathieu O'Neil identified LiveJournal-bashing in the blogosophere, and Susan Herring et al found offline sexism and ageism was being unintentionally transfered online. These issues of authorship and authority in the blogosphere are tangential to my PhD, so I'm pretty much out of my depth yet trying to learn how to swim. I'll post more on these topics as I move from this working paper towards the chapter.