On stealing authenticity…

So I’m sitting at my new Powerbook watching The Man of Law’s Tale when Cameron Marlow IM’s me to say that he’s in this conference watching a paper called, Visual Factors In Constructing Authenticity In Weblogs and they’ve just started citing the design of my site. It would probably be disingenuous of me to say that I just ripped off kottke, although when I first showed it to him, he did think it was a joke. Sigh. Anyway, it looks like an interesting paper:

The emergence of weblogs as contributing to the public sphere has returned concerns about authenticity in renewed form: readers who encounter weblogs must construct some basis of trust in the content and the subjectivity represented there in textual form. Many sources of authenticity are largely verbal (mutual citations, ideological coherence, recognized links, ease of access, ranking on index sites). Beyond these, however, there are visual cues which tend to promote confidence: these visual cues are more easily overlooked but nonetheless important in establishing the writersí credibility.

6 replies on “On stealing authenticity…”

The idea of visual authenticity is deeply dubious. Supposing that Undesign may act as an endorsement of a blogger is akin to a mechanic smearing marmite on his overalls so as to convince people that he knows his way round an engine.

Well I think the point is more to see how people choose to self-represent in order to try to convey authenticity. While – of course – I agree that judging a weblog’s authenticity on the basis of its design is dubious, I think it’s important to remember that there isn’t a single company, newspaper, businessman, magazine or television show (among many other things) that doesn’t try to self-represent as convincing, professional and ‘authentic’. It’s less like a mechanic smearing marmite on his overalls than it is a businessman turning up to a meeting in a suit. Doesn’t mean he’s good at his job, but it’s a sign that he takes it seriously…

Actually, it’s interesting that abstract/paper link mentions Joshuah Micah Marshall — I used to find his design a major stumbling block. Too skinny, and hard to link to. His photo up to helped a little… but his frequent links to his own work and the content of his analysis of others’ work was what got him on my favorite places list.
TPM is looking a little better now, too.

“Visual factors in constructing authenticity.” Since when could authenticity be “constructed”? White man speak in forked tongues, methinks. His entire paper is peppered with poor use of English.
Anyways – I came here to find out your views on this year’s Guardian Blog Awards, but there don’t seem to be any constructed yet.

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