OII SDP 2007 (VIII): Attentive Clusters and Info Bundles: Online Discourse Networks in the Blogosphere

Leads: John Kelly, Jake Shapiro*

The blogosphere is an emerging online global community of enormous proportions. Blog search engines find blogs and posts for you, ranked by the blogger’s authority. But what is “authority,” really? Authority about what, and among whom? The blogosphere is a complex social network, in which people who share interests, affiliations, values and ideologies are more densely connected. This network can be mapped, to understand the emergent structure of who is online, what they care about, and where they get their information. The methods are hard-core statistical network science, the results are often subtle, qualitative insights into politics, culture and ideas. We take a closer look at the English language blogosphere, and a quick tour of others as well.

(*) though scheduled, Jake Shapiro could not come

Words found within five words of “security” in blogposts: Bush, energy, agency, border, immigration, internatl, vital, illegal, enforcement, Palestinian, documents, vital, basic, sensitive, archive, documents, fence, Islamic

Categorization of political blogs according to inbound and outbound links:

  • Partisans: get and send links to the same “side”
  • Watchdog: get the ideas of the “other” side and bring them to their “side”
  • Lightning dog: contrary to the watchdog
  • Anomaly: contrary to Partisans

In English language, blogs are mainly driven by USA politics, being technology a (surprisingly) rather minor issue (among biggest issues, of course).

Blogroll seems not to be a very accurate measure of a blogger’s network, as it is too static. Linking is a more actual, live measure of what they care about. Actually, blog measuring sites (Technorati, BlogPulse, etc.) do take this into account more than blogroll. Attentive Clusters are people linking to similar things (of course, crosslinking too).

Looking at outlinks from the blogosphere, The New York Times is the most linked and by difference (on aggregate terms), which supposes both an interest on formal brainfood and also a rol in highest traditional media information diffusion by blogs. And media lead the outlinks taking out blogs. Technology and so — remember: no blogs, now, only non-blog sites — go on second place getting links from blogs.

The intelligentsia looks more one to each other — regardless of what “side” they’re in — in linking patterns than they do with other bloggers from their “side”: they’ll link to news media, to scientific reviews, to “intellectual” blogs and sites on politics, etc. Each one with its own flavor, but their core is quite similar across political color.

The real interesting things in the blogosphere happen heither on the A-list bloggers — real hubs that congregate huge amounts of links — nor on the long tail of the power distribution, populated with micronetworks of very particular interests. Between these two extremes, among the few thousands to the few hundreds of links exchanged, analysis of networking patterns within the blogosphere begins to make sense.

My reflections

  • How are links normalized in a blog? repeated links in same post don’t count? do they?What about comments? John Kelly just answers that comments are not counted in the analysis, even if they might bring some interesting light about networking between blogs.
  • I share Ralph Schroeder‘s concerns about whether link measuring is a good method to arise some conclusions about how the blogosphere connects to each other and non-blogs media, as linking policies may vary a lot among different bloggers.

Readings

Kelly, J., Fisher, D. & Smith, M. (2005). Debate, Division, and Diversity: Political Discourse Networks in USENET Newsgroups. Paper prepared for the “Online Deliberation Conference 2005” Stanford University, May 24, 2005. Palo Alto: Stanford University. Retrieved July 10, 2007 from http://www.coi.columbia.edu/pdf/kelly_fisher_smith_ddd.pdf

More info

SDP 2007 related posts (2007)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “OII SDP 2007 (VIII): Attentive Clusters and Info Bundles: Online Discourse Networks in the Blogosphere” In ICTlogy, #46, July 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=573

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