Writing to the unknown: bloggers and the presence of backpackers

Panteli, Niki, Yan, Lin and Chamakiotis, Petros (2011) Writing to the unknown: bloggers and the presence of backpackers. Information Technology and People, 24 (4). pp. 362-377. ISSN 0959-3845

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Abstract

Purpose
– In this paper, the aim is to study virtual presence in travel blogs. The paper seeks to argue that though some conceptualization of virtual presence has been made in the literature, this only took account of one's presence among a community of “known” others. Increasingly, however, in blogging and other online communities, users do not necessarily know the “others” but they nevertheless interact with them and develop friendships and lasting relationships. This stresses the multidimensional character of the study; one which sees presence as the core topic by considering different perspectives to it.

Design/methodology/approach
– An exploratory case study is conducted with a backpackers' blogging site, its members and audience; a setting that was considered suitable for finding answers to the research questions. The data are analysed qualitatively following a thematic analysis approach.

Findings
– It was found that the invisible and unknown audience has an important role to play in backpackers' presence online. In particular, the study highlights the role played by the audience in shaping the blogging experience and the sense of presence that this experience develops.

Research limitations/implications
– The exploratory case study carries a number of limitations. The findings are based on: reflections and views shared with the researchers by the bloggers, through interviews; a discussion forum; and on an enacted audience through their reflections.

Practical implications
– For practitioners, the study has implications in the areas of attracting and keeping audiences' interest and also in how to develop and support shared identity among independent travellers.

Originality/value
– The paper contributes to a better understanding of online communities and virtual social networks in general by showing how virtual worlds reshape social space and social interactions.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Business and Management
Depositing User: Petros Chamakiotis
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2015 08:59
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2015 08:59
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/53675
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