Saturday, November 3, 2007

emergent categories

Analyzing the tags on 16 of the 19 blogs in my blogroll (the other 3 don't tag or label posts) has allowed me to determine categories of post topics that are emergent from the way the bloggers define their own posts. As of Friday, November 2nd there were a total of 225 distinct tags, after collapsing synonymous labels such as frugal / frugal living, or building / construction. I then sorted these tags into 20 bigger categories (the number in parentheses is the total number of tagged posts in each category):

environmentalism (399)
energy (26)
health&hygiene (39)
family (168)
animals (224)
foods & food preservation (601)
food production (413)
house & home (339)
commentary (620)
tools (16)
systems (284)
community (178)
information (73)
leisure (78)
miscellaneous (151)
minimal purchasing (181)
weather & seasons (80)
handcraft (44)
transportation (10)
locations (20)

Note that the numbers do not quite reflect the total number of posts overall, as many posts are tagged with multiple labels. Converting those numbers to percents, I get a lovely graph of what's important to this group of homesteading bloggers:

Click on the chart to see a larger version.

It's clear that food is an important topic of conversation. Separately, the two food-related categories are second and third, but combined they are a clear frontrunner. The first largest category is commentary - which is admittedly something of a catch-all category. It includes posts about the blogs themselves, but primarily about philosophy, "thinking," simple living / simplicity, and "musings."

The next three are, respectively, environmentalism, house & home, and systems. Although environmentalism is not a topic of interest to all the bloggers I'm looking at, of those for whom it is important it plays a major role in self-sufficient living (as one might expect of a primary motivator). House & home, again, a very understandable and expected thing for homesteaders to be talking about, since the point, after all, is to be talking about living off of one's own land and the work there. But finally we get to systems, one that really intrigues me. These are processes and strategies that homesteaders use to support their self-reliant efforts: aquaponics, companion planting, composting, budgeting, organization, and seed-saving among other things.

I was surprised by the relative rarity of some topics. Tools and handcrafts (other than preserving, which is included with food) are singled out as tag topics far less often than I had expected. So I shall have to do some more digging to see if people really aren't talking about the tools of the trade, or if they are and are simply lumping them in with other things most of the time. The same goes for handcrafts, which I am taking as things like sewing, soap-making, candle-making, woodworking, and so on.


Phelan said...

(sorry, I am catching up on blogs today)

Food is the most talked about subject due to survival. Tools are talked about inside of other postings. Maybe we have neglicted to state our tags more clearly. From now on I ill be happy to include the tag "tools" whenever I have talked about such on object. I recently was gifted a book on handcrafted tools, and plan on doing them this winter, when food production is not a big issue.

elia said...

With the tags - it's certainly not a "should" sort of thing, and I figured something along those lines was happening. I just think it's sort of interesting that the tools are talked about always in the context of the other tasks, as opposed to things in themselves. I suspect that reflects how important they are, as opposed to a lack of importance - they're SO important that they become part of the "of course" things instead of something to talk about specially, most of the time.

I'll definitely look forward to reading about your handcrafted tools!