Linking without thinking: Weblogs, readership and online social capital formation
C. Marlow, 2006. Presented at the International Communication Association Conference, June, 2006, Dresden, Germany
Abstract
Weblogs have emerged as a popular form of online communication, driven by an array of personal, professional and social motivations. These websites provide tools for interaction, but designed as a broadcast medium, the depth and breadth of personal relationships between authors are not immediately observable.

Hypertext links made between blogs have been described as conversation, affiliation, or readership, implying a form of implicit social structure. We investigate this network of links using data collected through the automated surveillance of one million weblogs over the course of a month. These data suggest that attention in this economy is related to the author's frequency of communication.

To better understand the personal and social implications of weblog authorship, we have conducted a random survey of weblog authors. The results suggest two general classes of authors, professional and social, with differing motivations, behaviors, and effects in offline social life. While professional authors invest more time and entertain larger audiences, social bloggers tend to have more personal contact with their readers, and are more likely to have social capital embedded in ties formed online.