David Brake's academic writing and presentations

Research Interests

My broad research interests include digital divides and digital media literacy, privacy in online contexts, mediated interpersonal interaction, the political economy of the social web and other internet applications, online journalism and the interconnections between new media, the mass medias and politics.

My principal current research project is on the theme of "New Authorships". Its purpose is to understand how what it means to be an author and the practices of authorship and publishing may be changing in the UK in response to new digital technologies and organizations. These are enabling new online spaces for reading and collaborative editing, new forms of creative writing including hyperlinks and multimedia and new means of publication including ebooks and print on demand. For this project, amateur creative writers who are using these new digital tools - “new authors” will be interviewed to discover how they perceive their relationships with their readers and with the publishing industry. Workers in the publishing industry will also be interviewed to assess how they perceive “new authors” and the new forms of publication that are emerging.


Brake, D. R. (in preparation) Sharing Our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. (scheduled publication date 2014)
Brake, D. R. (2013). Are we all online content creators now? Web 2.0 and digital divides. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. doi: 10.1111/jcc4.12042
Brake, D. R. (2013) "Journalists, User Generated Content and Digital Divides" in Br(e)aking the News, (Gordon, J., G. Stewart and P. Rowinski eds) Peter Lang, Oxford, UK.
Brake, D. R. (2012). "Who Do They Think They're Talking To? Framings of the Audience by Social Media Users". International Journal of Communication, 6.
Livingstone, S. and D. Brake (2010) "On the Rapid Rise of Social Networking Sites: New Findings and Policy Implications", Children and Society 24(1), 75-83.

Brake, D. (2008) "Shaping the ‘Me’ in Myspace: The Framing of Profiles on a Social Network Site" in Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-Representations in New Media, (Lundby, K. ed.) Peter Lang, New York, pp. 285-300.

Brake, D. (2008) "Personal Publishing" in The International Encyclopedia of Communication, (Donsbach, W. ed.) Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK and Malden, MA, pp. 3571-3572.

Brake, D. (2007) "Personal Webloggers and Their Audiences: Who Do They Think They Are Talking To?" in Personal Media: Life between Screens / Personlige Medier [original in Norwegian, linked PDF in English], (Luders, M., L. Proitz and T. Rasmussen eds) Gyldendal, Oslo, pp. 141-163.

Alvi, I., et al. (2007) "Meeting Their Potential: The Role of Education and Technology in Overcoming Disadvantage and Disaffection in Young People" BECTA Coventry, UK.

Hargrave, A. M. and S. Livingstone (2007) "Harm and Offence in Media Content: Updating the 2005 Review" Ofcom http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/telecoms/reports/byron/annex6.pdf

Livingstone, S. and A. M. Hargrave (2006) Harm and Offence in Media Content: A Review of the Evidence, Intellect, Bristol. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/5225/

Brake, D. (2006) "Chat Rooms, Bulletin Boards, Electronic Games Effects" in Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents, and the Media, (Arnett, J. J. ed.) Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. http://www.sagepub.com/refbooksProdDesc.nav?prodId=Book226757

Brake, D. (2005) "Book Review: Cyberprotest: New Media, Citizens and Social Movements", New Media & Society,7 (3), p. 425.  http://nms.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/7/3/423


‘As if nobody’s reading’: The imagined audience and socio-technical biases in personal blogging practice in the UK

This thesis is now available online via the LSE's eprints archive and on Google Books and is Creative Commons licensed (BY-NC)


This thesis examines the understandings and meanings of personal blogging from the perspective of blog authors. The theoretical framework draws on a symbolic interactionist perspective, focusing on how meaning is constructed through blogging practices, supplemented by theories of mediation and critical technology studies. The principal evidence in this study is derived from an analysis of in-depth interviews with bloggers selected to maximise their diversity based on the results of an initial survey. This is supplemented by an analysis of personal blogging’s technical contexts and of various societal influences that appear to influence blogging practices.

Bloggers were found to have limited interest in gathering information about their readers, appearing to rely instead on an assumption that readers are sympathetic. Although personal blogging practices have been framed as being a form of radically free expression, they were also shown to be subject to potential biases including social norms and the technical characteristics of blogging services. Blogs provide a persistent record of a blogger’s practice, but the bloggers in this study did not generally read their archives or expect others to do so, nor did they retrospectively edit their archives to maintain a consistent self-presentation.

The empirical results provide a basis for developing a theoretical perspective to account for blogging practices. This emphasises firstly that a blogger’s construction of the meaning of their practice can be based as much on an imagined and desired social context as it is on an informed and reflexive understanding of the communicative situation. Secondly, blogging practices include a variety of envisaged audience relationships, and some blogging practices are essentially self-directed with potential audiences playing a marginal role. Blogging’s technical characteristics and the social norms surrounding blogging practices appear to enable and reinforce this unanticipated lack of engagement with audiences. This perspective contrasts with studies of computer mediated communication that suggest bloggers would monitor their audiences and present themselves strategically to ensure interactions are successful in their terms. The study also points the way towards several avenues for further research including a more in-depth consideration of the neglected structural factors (both social and technical) which potentially influence blogging practices, and an examination of social network site use practices using a similar analytical approach.

Conference and workshop presentations and attendance

Date Conference Presentation title
11-13 April, 2012
Africa-UK Journalism Education Exchange Network, Luton
Building “Africanised” New Media Training into Journalism Education
11-13 January 2012
Media, Communication and Cultural Studies in UK Higher Education (MeCCSA), Luton
UGC and Digital Divides: Interviewing the Taxi Driver 2.0
14-17 July 2011
International Association of Media and Communications Researchers, Istanbul, Turkey
New Authorship: Amateur authorship, digital media and the field of literary publishing
18-22 July, 2010
IAMCR 2010 Braga Portugal
From digital consumption to production and interaction: a new agenda for digital inclusion and education
22-26 June, 2010
International Communications Association: Singapore
Lifelogging: visions of absent audiences
6-8 January 2010
MeCCSA 2010
The right contexts for virtual ethnography
21-24 Jul 2009 Transforming Audiences 2
The costs of self-presentation: dimensions of potential harm to content producers
4-5 Jun 2009 Digital Cultures Workshop: Social Media Publics ‘As if nobody’s reading’: personal bloggers' imagined audiences
26-28 May 2009 The Work of Life Writing ‘As if nobody’s reading’: personal bloggers' imagined audiences
2007 Transforming Audiences, London, UK Personal webloggers and their audiences - one medium, many communicative contexts

Association of Internet Researchers 8 (Vancouver)

Constructing a purposive interview sample of bloggers

2007 International Communications Association, San Francisco Filling the 'About Me' Box: Questioning the centrality of self reflection in online identity-related spaces
2007 Inter-University Graduate Conference, London UK The evolution of identity and its expression: From ascribed to freely created and back again?
2007 Poke 1.0 - A Facebook research symposium, London, UK
2005 MeCCSA Postgraduate Network Conference 2005 Private lives lived in public: weblogs and the performance of self 
2005 Association of Internet Researchers 6 (Chicago)
2004 Joint Westminster, Goldsmith, LSE, City Doctoral Symposium Who's Reading My Home Page?  Approaches to the Micro-Audience
2004 Association of Internet Researchers 5 (Sussex)

MSc Coursework

Date Publication Description
Aug 2003 MSc Dissertation Missing the grassroots?
Factors shaping the political use of the Internet among UK activists
April 2003 LSE coursework for
Citizenship and the Media (Professor Stephen Coleman)
E-Democracy and Deliberative Democracy:
How do technology and democracy interact?
Feb 2003

LSE coursework for
New Media, Information and Knowledge Systems (Professor Robin Mansell)

Do the new digital media enable wider participation in the public sphere?
December 2002 LSE coursework for
Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications
Do the newer media require a different analysis
of power relations as compared to older media?
December 2002

LSE coursework for
Information Systems

Judging Search Engines: A literature review

My work at New Scientist has been cited in papers including:

Introna, L. D. and H. Nissenbaum (2000) "Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters", The Information Society, 16 (3), pp. 169-185(17).

and Lawrence, S. and C. L. Giles (1998) "Searching the World Wide Web ", Science, 280 (5360), pp. 98-100.

The article most cited is Lost in Cyberspace which is gone from New Scientist's public pages but is still available via the Internet Archive.

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