In part one of this post about the roles bloggers take on, I looked at some other bloggers who have considered online the jobs they take on in doing their work.
This variety of roles is one reason why I think blogging is such a good activity for students. Blogging allows, perhaps requires, you to try a variety of tasks. I know of several bloggers who knew nothing about web design and so chose to publish via a blog. Most of them have learned some web skills in the process. As word processing changed the way many of us write, so does blogging affect your writing.
I asked my own students again this semester to think about the roles they see for bloggers (themselves & others) and in this post I have drawn from some of what they told me.
Everyone starts with the obvious roles of writer and editor. All of them recognized by studying corporate bloggers that in that world there are often multiple people filling the roles in one blog (multiple writers, researchers, designers, an IT staff...) unlike their personal efforts in flying solo.
There was general agreement on bloggers taking on these roles:
Reader - what writer in any genre doesn't read others in the field
IT support - who hosts your blog, fixes the bugs, updates the software? I have Tim; some people rely on Google/Blogger; some have to do it alone. Is this the same as "webmaster?"
Tech writer - well, my students are more involved in that field, but many blogs are technical (not always technology) oriented. Catherine talks about bloggers as reporter, author, storyteller. She also sees bloggers as librarians (but that is probably a personal take on it) and as gurus: "experts in a particular topic or field. For example, see Librarian in Black or Miss Snark, the Literary Agent. These experts set up their blogs as testaments to their experience and know-how, so others may learn from them."
Designer - though you can leave most blogs alone and just accept the theme defaults, the majority of bloggers eventually start digging into the code view, adding HTML, playing with the CSS, embedding video etc. It's a way into web design for some people. There are also the visual design aspects of an appealing blog. I'm not including many links here but designers-who-blog.com is a good example for this role.
Editor seems to be an obvious role though Revathi mentioned the related role of "house keeping" as in "purging" outdated & redundant information. She's thinking of corporate blogs, but now I'm wondering what needs to be purged here? Broken images & links? Should we be updating old posts?
Entertainer - there are blogs that aren't trying to change the world, and most of us try some "web cetera" once and awhile.
Educator - those bloggers who want to "teach" even if they are not in education
Many of my grad students work with SME's (subject matter experts) in their jobs, so it's not surprising that they saw that as a role. As readers, we might argue the "expert" label on some bloggers out there, but...
Orna Gadish wrote about blogger as researcher/scientist:
"...must be able to conduct surveys into the habits of his readers, or perform audience analysis (e.g., as conducted by Turn, Jenniffer, 2004). Audience analysis conducted at the beginning of the Blog design can be coupled with usability testing. In order to create a user centered Blog, the Blogger must apply audience analysis methods (general dimensions for characterizing the audience,) such as testing the User Role in his blog, User Goals in accessing the blog, Userâ€™s current knowledge of the Blogâ€™s subject matter... Next the blogger should be able to apply concrete methods in his research (e.g., survey that requires feedback â€“ via online survey, via log-files to the website or phone interview.) He must be able to arrive at results and draw conclusions from them. For example, about the connection between the audience analysis and the web or the blog's design."
And there were some unique roles mentioned that might apply only to a few out there in the blogosphere: critic, devil's advocate, fashion, aggregator.
I was initially going to amplify the reporter role you mentioned, but I might change that to witness. I was thinking of recent use of blogs by mainstream media AND readers to track the uprisings in Burma and the way soldiers use/had used blogs from Iraq.
It's not necessarily the news reporting but the authenticity that resonates with me.
I was watching Ken Burns' The War and marveling how things have changed...technologically and otherwise.