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Authenticity and self-interest

Some thoughts after reading this: Quiggin, J. & Potts, J., 2008. Economics of non-market innovation and digital literacy. Media International Australia, (128), 144-50.

The article is a debate about the significance of the non-market productive interactions - with Open Source as the main example.

Quiggin argues that the non-monetary sector will begin to direct the monetary sector, reversing previous pattern of monetisation of non-commercial practices etc. Potts argues that the sectors always interact, and non-market innovations lead into the market.

Quiggin sees a shift back to household production: "innovation is coming from the collective contributions of individuals and households driven by a range of non-economic motives." (146); he also pronounces on forms of rationality - "It is difficult to be both a profit maximiser and a charity. They are indeed competing versions of rationality." (147)

Later Potts kicks in with: "altruistic or otherwise community-minded behaviours are entirely consistent with individual rationality once we account for the existence of the implicit other (mostly future) markets in which the agent perceives themselves to be potentially engaged." (147)

--> Are they arguing about whether or not it's rational to do something altruistically? I'm not sure... but it's a different argument to the one about whether or not the monetary and non-monetary markets are linked. Potts argument ultimately depends on speculating about the motives of the actors, and implying that - whatever they say - the actors are rational and self-interested.

Potts later makes a good point: "it is not the case that there is a domain of markets and market activity on one side, and a domain of non-market activity on the other, but rather an ever-shifting process where behaviours in markets fnd non-market contexts, and this in turn creates new market contexts, and so on." (149)

--> But this does not relate directly to the intentions or motivations of the actor. Motivation is often relative to the beholder, and frequently a post-hoc rationalisation. The assumption of intrinsic self-directed and self-aware action is fundamental to the construction of the authentic self. In contrast to the modernist self-interested rational individual, this authentic self can be marked out symbolically by her ability to deny self-interestedness; the lack of agency implicit in the rational self-interested argument is in opposition to the post-modern paradoxical search for authenticity.

The 'ideal type' blog?

As promised, here is some more analysis of the survey. In this post, I'm going to compare responses to a series of statements that were asked to both bloggers and non-bloggers about their opinions on blogs in general. The idea behind this set of statements was to see whether there was some sort of consensus amongst bloggers and readers about what a blog should be like - i.e. is there an ideal-type blog that the members of the blogosphere believes should be a model to follow? There were some questions on more objective matters (e.g. photos or not, comments or not), and some more subjective matters (e.g. whether a blogger should be honest or not).

For me, often the most interesting questions are usually those that ask people to rate their level of agreement with certain statements (it's called using a Likert scale normally); social science is never an accurate science, and reflecting people's range of thoughts and practices accurately based on a structured questionnaire (i.e. with choices of answers) is very difficult, but this way does give one way of reflecting the many shades of gray that make up human behaviour.

You can see the details of the responses by clicking on the thumbnails below
myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudesmyblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudesmyblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudesmyblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes

but what I'll do here is compare them using area charts to get a feel for the trends. The charts compare the responses by Bloggers (in pink; n = 356) and Non-Bloggers (in green; n = 197). If you see more on the right side, it means more agreed with the statement, and disagreements show up on the left; a peak in the middle means more were 'Neutral'. Where there is more of a difference in their attitudes, you can see the colour stand out. You should also be aware that these graphs are not always directly comparable - because the scale on the y-axis changes sometimes.

Functional features
These compare the more 'functional features' that bloggers and non-bloggers prefer.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
The clearest preference is for comments - overall just over 80% of bloggers and non-bloggers think that blogs should have a comments function; compared to the chat-box, you can see that there is a lot less interest as to whether or not there is a chat-box on a blog.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
There's a general preference for photos, but many are Neutral, and about one-fifth think they are not a necessity. The Non-Bloggers tend to think this is more important.

Continue reading "The 'ideal type' blog?"