First Installment: Introduction
Second Installment: That Which We Call a Blog?
Third Installment: From Blogs to Blog Carnivals and Beyond
Some bloggers distinguish between “filter-style weblogs” (31) that closely follow the original hyperlink list format of early blogs and “blog-style weblogs” (32) that provide intimate insights into an individual’s life through diary-like postings. While such distinctions obscure the ways in which many blogs vacillate between different styles, it does provide a potential (yet partial) explanation for the development of blog carnivals. In their basic function, blog carnivals seem to serve the same purpose as blogs, specifically filter-style weblogs; they both provide current lists of links to websites of interest. Filter-style weblogs were originally created to catalogue the entire web, as they originated at a time when listing nearly every website in existence was possible. Now weblogs and blog carnivals, help to provide a filter for the world wide web, as it is too expansive to be fully indexed at this point in its development (33). While a filter-style weblog may include hyperlinks to a variety of different types of websites, such as news media websites, game websites, community websites, or video websites, blog carnivals primarily link to blog articles; blog carnivals are filters specifically for the blogosphere. Wikipedia.com (34) highlights the differences between these two forms in its definition of a blog carnival; a single edition or issue of a blog article is described as “a blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic” and “[m]ost blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent contributors to the carnival, and serve to both generate new posts by contributors and highlight new bloggers posting matter in that subject area" (35). Like filter-style weblogs, blog carnivals provide topical reading lists of internet sources that potentially span the entirety of cyberspace; unlike filter-style weblogs, blog carnivals are geared towards providing a current cartography of only the blogosphere. Further, filter-style weblogs are ongoing websites authored by a consistent blogger or blog team whereas blog carnivals are a series of individual blog posts that are hosted on various blogs by different individuals who volunteer, apply, or are nominated to compile and edit each new edition of the blog carnival. An individual blog that culls interesting material from the internet differs from a blog carnival because of the stability of the individual blog’s location, or URL, and its author or authors. A blog carnival, on the other hand, travels, like country fair, and is executed by a series of different hosts.
Through their participatory model, blog carnivals establish communities. BlogCarnival.com, a hosting website that supports blog carnivals, illustrates the communal nature of blog carnivals in its description of them:
A Blog Carnival is a particular kind of blog community. There are many kinds of blogs, and they contain articles on many kinds of topics. Blog Carnivals typically collect together links pointing to blog articles on a particular topic. A Blog Carnival is like a magazine. It has a title, a topic, editors, contributors, and an audience. Editions of the carnival typically come out on a regular basis (e.g. every monday [sic], or on the first of the month). Each edition is a special blog article that consists of links to all the contributions that have been submitted, often with the editors opinions or remarks.
There is so much stuff in the blog-o-sphere, just finding interesting stuff is hard. If there is a carnival for a topic you are interested in, following that carnival is a great way to learn what bloggers are saying about that topic. If you are blogging on that topic, the carnival is the place to share your work with like-minded bloggers (36).
Blog carnivals unite bloggers who share common interests, encourage bloggers to pursue certain themes in their writing, increase traffic to the host’s blog, and promote the work of other bloggers. Blog carnivals create online communities by fostering collaboration and networking between individual bloggers.
According to internet lore, the first blog carnival is thought to be The Carnival of the Vanities. With a focus on blogging as the “bleeding edge of vanity publishing” the bloggers at SilflayHraka.com set out to establish a venue for bloggers to gain greater audiences and to increase linking between blogs in September 2002 (37). While playing upon the conventions of the carnival or traveling circus, a call for bloggers to “Come one, come all. See the freaks on the display for the low, low price of absolutely nothing!,” the goal of this call was articulated as:
What I'm hoping for with the Carnival is kind of an hourglass effect, where one post pulls in a large number of visitors, and sends them right back out to through the links within it. I think it'll work, but it might not, and if it doesn't then it's at least sparked a couple of other ideas on how to find the quality in the blogosphere (39).
Generally, The Carnival of Vanities was well-received. The idea of the blog carnival was indeed a spark and it quickly became popular as other bloggers began to replicate it. To date, over 300 editions of The Carnival of Vanities have appeared and BlogCarnival.com lists over 1,300 carnivals in its most recent catalogue.
31. Blood, “Weblogs: A History and Perspective,” 12.
32. Ibid., 13.
33. Stone, Who Let the Blogs Out?, 37.
34. Although Wikipedia.com would not be considered an academic source in most situations, because research on blog carnivals has not yet been widely produced, this collaborative web-based encyclopedia is, in fact, an authoritative source that reflects the current state of the blogosphere.
35. Wikipedia.com, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog_carnival.
36. Blog Carnivals.com, http://blogcarnival.com/bc/faq.html.
37. Carnival of the Vanities, http://www.silflayhraka.com/archives/carnival.
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