Friday, May 25, 2012

Conversation on blogs as nonfiction information sources

I have been exploring as part of my research for this term blogs as nonfiction information sources. I am conceptualizing blogs as genres of non-fiction writing, memoirs and other genres of personal stories.

From conversation, a friend of mine stated that such a study on blogs sounds interesting but posed the following questions, concerns and even answers. I have edited the responses and flow of conversation to more effectively communicate in dialogue form my emerging ideas about blogs as valuable sources of information:

Friend [slightly edited by me]:
How can you verify the accuracy of the information if it comes from a blog? Would you check who wrote it ? And even then it has not been peer reviewed, so it has to be a lower level non fiction information source to corroborate credible sources, not so?
 My response

 Well depends on which blog you use. Who produces it is important, whether it be an organisation or a company. The authority and authenticity of the blog must be ascertained.

Obviously there are some blogs being maintained by experts in a subject field (Clyde, 2004). In addition there are archives that publishes original or primary sources from their collection through blogs (Theimer, 2011).

Libraries already purchase biographies and memoirs and other non-fiction information sources written by individuals from their personal experiences.  So why not look at blogs of celebrity and important persons as also primary sources and as the online extensions of memoirs and biographies? 

My friend also raised other issues [slightly edited by me]:

        Yes you can use them [blogs] but it depends on what you are using them for, because you have to take into account the type of information you can glean from the source. A biography or a memoir is still subjective but it gives you an understanding from which to is merely a point of view

My response:
        Most definitely. As you put it...the printed genre is as subjective as the online genre.Not because it is in print makes it authentic. All printed sources are mere perspectives. But if blogs provide links to other perspectives, just like how other print books provide references, then it can also refer one to alternative perspectives and other range of perspectives

My friend [slightly edited by me]:

        Most printed sources have to go through many channels to check it is at least a researched and solid point of view and its peer reviewed by others. Unless you publish it yourself, but a blog does not go through those same channels. Hence the difference between the Internet sources and databases.The Internet sources can be good but they must be corroborated if you are using it for scholarly papers.
My response :
        Some persons and organisations upload documents and other primary sources on blogs.  Law librarians have found that they can access court documents and cases on blogs (Maxwell, 2008).

My Friend:

        Then that changes the nature of the blog. What you are then using is the primary source found through a blog.
 My response:
     Whatever is present, blogs can still be sources to locate the information. Even if they are referrals, just like bibliographies.
My friend [slightly edited by me]:
        Yes. That's what I meant.  You are using the credited material found via a blog, but some blogs are merely airings of non qualified people with non credited opinions.

My response:
      Even journalist are using blogs sometimes as sources for news reports or to identify sources to be interviewed. (Bailey, 2008) 

My friend [slightly edited by me]:
    Yes but the news is merely an event. Any event is  news. Scholarly research is different from news. I'm not saying that you can't use a blog or the information on it.

 My response:
         Sociologists are using blogs for research now. Studies have been published indicating that blogs are valuable sources of information for academic social research (qualitative and quantitative) (Hookway, 2008).
 My friend [slightly edited by me]:
         Because it is the nature of the information. That's what I said. You can use a blog depending on what you need the information for. A blog shows us human opinions, behaviours and workings of the mind. [Hookway, 2008]

My concluding remarks and commentary on the dialogue:

I had to abruptly end the conversation with my friend on this point. However, my friend by this point eventually argues my position on blogs. My only difference in view is that I doubt that any person is unqualified to write a blog. Every blog is a source of information and a perspective that should be voiced and represented. This issue therefore is of criteria in selecting what blogs to collect, and showcase to one's public. Libraries need to take into consideration the audience they are serving in those decisions and collect and bring to the mind of those audiences the blogs that may be of most information value to them.


Bailey, O. G. (2008). “Blogs in the Second Iraqi War: Alternative Media Challenging the Mainstream?” pp.72- 83. In Olgo Guedes Bailey, Bart Cammaerts and Nico Carpentier.  Understanding Alternative Media. New York: Open University Press.

Clyde, L. (2004). Weblogs and libraries. Oxford: Chandos.

Hookway, N. (2008). Entering the blogosphere: Some strategies for using blogs in social research Qualitative Research  8 (1): 91-113. 

Maxwell, R. (2008). Flash and Substance: Blogs as Alternative Sources of Legal Information. American Association of Law Libraries [AALL] Spectrum, 12(4), 9-10.

Theimer, K. (2011). A different kind of web :New connections between archives and our users. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.

(Revised for errors September 11, 2012)

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