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Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category

challenges of tracking topical discussion networks online [ICA2010]

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I’m currently in Singapore, having spent the last few days at the now-concluded International Communication Association conference for 2010. As well as going to various interesting presentations covering a wide range of processes, subjects, and disciplines (including such topics as the uses of Twitter while watching television programmes and the anatomy of YouTube memes), I also prepared a short presentation on some of the network mapping I’ve been doing recently, using data collected by Lars Kirchhoff and Thomas Nicolai of Sociomantic Labs. The final paper authored by the three of us, ‘Challenges of tracking topical discussion networks online’ will be available later, but for the moment here are the slides used yesterday morning at 8.30 (and, for more explanation, Axel Bruns was liveblogging both this session and the rest of the conference too):

[For details of the other presentation I was involved with, ‘Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere’ (Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Tim Highfield, Lars Kirchhoff, and Thomas Nicolai), Axel has the slides online here]


Written by Tim

26 June, 2010 at 4:08 pm

ir10 slides: themes and discussions from the French political blogosphere

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The two presentations I was involved in at ir10, looking at the Australian and French political blogospheres, both happened earlier today. Axel has already posted the slides from the Australian paper, ‘Critical Voices in the Australian Political Blogosphere’, over at his blog, along with the many recaps of other papers from the conference. So, here are the slides for the French blog-oriented paper, renamed to ‘Themes and discussions from eight months in the French political blogosphere’. The slides aren’t much to look at, a lot wordier than I’d like normally, but given the time in carrying out the study to get to a point where it could be presented, the words were as much a reference for me as information for the audience! Obviously the work is very preliminary, but there should be more coming out of both papers in the next few months.

Written by Tim

10 October, 2009 at 6:45 am

new Berkman Center study on the Arabic blogosphere

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Last year, the Internet & Democracy team at the Berkman Center at Harvard released a study of the Persian language blogosphere, a key work in larger-scale, non-English-language blogosphere research. (And of course, although I’m not going to discuss current events in Iran, the use of social media, twitter in particular, has been a subject of news reports recently (regardless of its relative importance, biases, etc.)). The I&D team have just released a new study, this time of the Arabic blogosphere – taking in Egyptian, Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Syrian blogs, and covering clusters and bridges in three languages (Arabic, English, French – although my treatment of ‘French’ in the current version of my research is looking at the country rather than the language, the use of French in northern Africa provides an additional, possible group of sites to study). I’ve just downloaded the pdf of the new report, so no comments on that yet, but if you want to have a look at it, it’s at the I&D site.

Written by Tim

18 June, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Posted in articles, blogs, maps

linkfluence visualise the French blogosphere (or bits of it) (twice!)

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Previously mentioned on several occasions, linkfluence/rtgi, who are leading the way in not just visualising maps of online networks but also giving several levels of information and scalabity, have in the last week or so released two visualisations for different sites. Last year, of course, they produced PresidentialWatch08 for the US Presidential election, and in 2007 had Observatoire Presidentielle for the French equivalent. Now come two new maps, one blog-centric and the other providing a more topical view of website connections.


First is the Wikiopole, for Wikio (a search and ranking site, who have also been developing tools for researchers, including their Backlink Factory). Depicting the connections between the top 1500 ranked blogs, and with sites coded based on their category (political, science, sport, etc), the map provides another overview of the state of the French blogosphere, this time in May 2009 (and may be useful if a map comes out every month/several months – in which case, archiving each edition would be rather handy). It’s also good to see visualisations not just looking at the political side of things (not that’s necessarily a bad thing, but there are plenty of ways to subdivide networks of blogs). Plus, as an overall blogosphere study, there’s scope to compare the statistical layout of the linkfluence map to the personal work from ouinon.net in 2007, despite the long period between the production of the particular maps.


The second map is for touteleurope.fr, looking at 2046 sites (not just blogs) discussing Europe(an politics) in French. There’s quite a bit of cross-over, understandably, between this map and the Observatoire Presidentielle, although it’s less concerned with the different political ideologies present and the types of site and separating the analysts from the ‘militants’, for example.

I’m on a rather slow internet connection at the moment (and unfortunately the two maps take a while to load for me), and still waiting for some information before looking further at the two maps – a lengthier write-up will come, but for the moment any new work in the French blogosphere, political or not, and in network studies and visualisations (even with reservations about methods or outputs, as the case may be) is welcome.

Written by Tim

6 May, 2009 at 6:31 pm

what to do with blog posts: another test

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With my confirmation seminar next week (Tuesday to be precise, more details on that later), I’ve been thinking about what I’m trying to get out of this research project, which bits of the data to study, and how these might be represented within my thesis (and any other outcomes). Because I am quite possibly insane, over the last two days I’ve grabbed (manually) the full text of each blog post made on Pineapple Party Time – a blog hosted on Crikey and run by Mark Bahnisch of Larvatus Prodeo, William Bowe of the Poll Bludger, and Possum (Scott Steel) from Pollytics. I chose this blog mainly because it had a brief, and complete, lifespan – it ran for a month, being launched on Tuesday 24 February 2009, when the Queensland state election was called, until Monday 23 March (two days after the election itself, enough time for a few final analyses). Of course, that didn’t mean there were only a few posts, around 130 in total (having copied and pasted each one into its own document), of which Bahnisch contributed the most.

So, with all the posts in raw(ish) text format (except for the election day liveblog – see below), and not worrying about links or comments just yet (I didn’t save comments, but I’ll probably get some graphs happening comparing number of posts per day and comments per day, both for the whole blog history and per author), what should be done with this data? Well, textual/content analysis of some description, but something quick would be preferable for the moment. I’m going to run everything through Leximancer a bit later, but earlier in the week ManyEyes (featured here previously) added a new data visualisation tool to its range of options: phrase net. This method allows you to upload your data set of many words and find common combinations of phrases along the lines of ‘x is y’, ‘x’s y’, ‘x of the y’, ‘x and y’, and so on. So, in the name of research, I’ve been testing it out. Here’s the visualisation (currently of the ‘x is y’ format) for posts from the entire blog:

ppt [ManyEyes]

Given the general themes of the election coverage – Premier Anna Bligh calling it early, the LNP looking to gain a big swing of voters away from the ALP, polls being seen as giving the LNP a slim victory or making the contest too close to call – some of the combinations showing up are unsurprising (‘Labor is worried/scared/vulnerable’ for example).

Going on an author by author basis, though, this changes a little, given Possum and Bowe’s focus on, for example, poll analysis and electoral data. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Tim

26 March, 2009 at 12:17 pm

phrases of the blogosphere

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Another visualisation of blog (and other media) data: MemeTracker provides an alternative to the likes of Blogpulse, tracking stories and events across the blogosphere and mainstream media online through the presence of key quotes and phrases. The resulting visualisation shows the popularity and also lifetime of a particular story – for example, the Obama quip “you can put lipstick on a pig”. Looking at quotes and phrases is a useful method – the political one-liner can pop up years after the story itself has been dealt with, haunting later politicians and administrations. Indeed, a thread over at Larvatus Prodeo has reminded me of John Howard’s “If I were running Al-Qaeda in Iraq I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats” (reported, for example, on the 7.30 Report back in February 2007)…

MemeTracker also has a ranking of sites used in its data gathering, based on their response time to stories, whether they are ahead of the curve or not. The usual blog suspects, the likes of Huffington Post and Daily Kos, not to mention Drudge, are among the quickest at reporting stories containing the phrases being tracked, with the Huffington Post in particular featuring nearly three out of four tracked phrases. Australian news sites vary with their response rates. http://www.news.com.au is the quickest to report out of those I saw from a quick glance, two hours before the fairfax duo of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age (and also news.com.au …), while theaustralian.news.com.au on average only covers stories with said phrases at their peak popularity… The news.com.au, SMH, Age coverage also feature over 50% of the phrases, compared to 34% for the Australian ABC and 30-50% for the majority of British news sites (news.bbc.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk, timesonline.co.uk) – although the Guardian, one of the earliest of the UK sites to report the phrases, gets up to 70% (possibly due to its blog integration and amount of online-specific content?). There are plenty of aspects of MemeTracker to still investigate – which sites are on the source list, which aren’t, particularly international blogs (as opposed to international news sites), as the phrases used are, understandably, US-centric, and whether the sites earlier to cover stories influence the coverage of the subsequent sites, but it’s another interesting approach to tracking political discussion online and visualising it.

[via information aesthetics]

Written by Tim

11 November, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Spread and measurement

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A few cool tools and projects looking at the spread of memes and discussion across blogs, and also a barometer of what is being linked to by different sides of, and across, the ideological divide between political blogs. [Yes, I’m a bit behind with this…]

First, via Data Mining and Linkfluence, the team at Presidential Watch 08 (run by Linkfluence and mentioned previously) have released videos and data showing the spread of John McCain’s celebrity ad across the blogosphere, and also the response video from Paris Hilton (and yes, I may have doomed my blog for eternity with three of the four words before the parentheses). It is fairly close to part of what I’d like to ideally do for my project, that being using the pre-existing map created in June, and overlaying the spread of the memes on the map. The John McCain map is here, and the Paris Hilton map is here.

Second, via Ethan Zuckerman, Shifting the Debate is a site developed by Morningside Analytics that measures “the movement of ideas through social networks”, again focusing on the US political blogosphere (apparently there’s something important happening next week). Their main tool so far is the Political Video Barometer, showing the most popular videos being linked to by conservative and liberal bloggers, be they campaign spots, interviews, viral videos, or even Wassup 2008. Again, it’s something I’d like to feature in my research – one of the people involved in Morningside, John Kelly, also co-authored a paper (with Bruce Etling) on the Persian-language blogosphere earlier this year which, as well as identifying thematic clusters within the network, also categorised groups of sites being linked to (such as international news sites), and saw which groups were linking to what. Ethan Zuckerman’s write-up of the Political Video Barometer is very informative and humorous, while Bruce Etling has also discussed it, so I’d recommend you read those for analysis, but I’ll quote a section of Zuckerman’s post here (and thus get to feature something else I meant to blog a while ago):

What’s the most popular video evenly linked by liberals and conservatives? Turns out we can all agree that remaking eighties music videos by narrating what happens in inexplicably trippy videos is an excellent idea. Yes, we all love the literal version of Take On Me. Perhaps there’s hope for political compromise in the United States after all.

Written by Tim

29 October, 2008 at 3:16 pm