The Language of Blogs

Via Data Mining, Scott Nowson has published his thesis “The Language of Weblogs: A study of genre and individual differences.” I’ll admit to not having read it all yet (it’s 300 pages) but unsurprisingly:

The study concludes by confirming that both gender and personality are projected by language in blogs; furthermore, approaches which take the context of language features into account can be used to detect more variation than those which do not.

It’s unsurprising as one of the defining characteristic of a blog has tended to be that personality comes through, which usually reflects gender. In fact, I’d say the ability to allow yourself to project a personality is a pre-reuqisite for a good blogger, as illustrated in wurk.net‘s questioning of the major blog networks about what they are looking for. The common elements that came through were passion, personality and great writing skills (plus staying power – you have to be able to do this consistently).

Without personality, without putting some of yourself out there, it’s just neutral reporting, and there are plenty of ‘official’ sources for that.

Update: Scott commented about the meaning of personality: “By personality I am referring specifically to the traits of the five factor model (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), which I’ve shown can be projected to varying degrees by language.” His report which I’ve started reading, drives down into the components of personality that are measurable opposed to my assessment of surface personality which is the sum of them. So whilst I can make a snap judgement based on my perceptions, he’s used tools to delve into the underlying traits that are projected throught he language.

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2 thoughts on “The Language of Blogs

  1. It depends what you mean by personality. If you mean that you can see that a blogger has personality, generally, then yes, this is observable. You can tell a person has character, but can you tell exactly what that is? By personality I am referring specifically to the traits of the five factor model (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), which I’ve shown can be projected to varying degrees by language. What little literature there is suggests that people have varying degrees of success in recognising these traits: Extraversion as you might imagine is one of the easiest; level Neuroticism can often be hard to see.

    And besides, just because something seems obvious, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try and prove it.

  2. I made snap judgements based on the summary; I’m still working my way through the report, but looking forward to reading into the more academic examinations of personality.

    And just because something seems obvious may mean that you should definitely study it…it may not be as obvious as it appears.