Sunday, 29 October 2006

Lurk Theory? or Are Women Born Lurkers?* As of 7:11 p.m. this evening—exactly 24 hours since my last post hit the 'Net—I've heard from 37 people on the blog and another 211 via email. I must say: I never realized how great the gulf separating commenter from lurker was until today. A fairly substantial community of people who don't even know they belong to a community encircles my evening blather. Despite devoting today's spare brain cycles to spinning Lurk Theory, I'm no closer to understanding its appeal—not because I think less of lurkers, but because I'm constitutionally incapable of not speaking up when I feel so inclined. I know some people are better at biting their tongues than others, but I lack the requisite imagination to understand why. Bits of my brain scream GENDER POLITICS! but I really don't think that's the case. If my (outrageously unscientific) survey is any indication, my readership is overwhelmingly female. Why are most of my readers female but most of my commenters male? This probably plays into the hands of some oh-so-terribly unprofound dynamic, but I wonder whether it's a product of what Kathleen Fitzpatrick discussed the other day: But bloggers—generally speaking, bloggers seem to be good folks, but beyond that, blogging’s mode of discourse, its reliance on a kind of ongoing development of a narrative of self, seems to allow, if not require, some aspects of an actual personality to come through. The blog is of course always a performance of self, and never that self in any direct sense. But the performance in this form gives me the impression, after having met a number of folks in person whom I knew first from the blogosphere (n=something greater than 10), that the blog permits, where it is desired, some glimpses into an “authentic” identity, which other modes of online discourse have often managed to mask. Is the appeal of that discursive development gendered? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not sure what to do with the numbers I'm looking at. Should I hold out for a more respectable sample size? Is my male readership hiding in the bush? If so, why? What are these fools hiding from? Or do they not exist? *Made you look!

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