Critical Voices in the Australian Political Blogosphere

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Critical Voices in the Australian Political Blogosphere

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Critical Voices in the Australian Political Blogosphere

  1. 1. Critical Voices in the Australian Political Blogosphere Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia a.bruns , [email_address] – http://snurb.info/ , http://andthentheworld.wordpress.com/ Lars Kirchhoff, Thomas Nicolai Sociomantic Labs Berlin, Germany lars.kirchhoff , [email_address] – http://sociomantic.com/
  2. 2. A New Approach to Blog Mapping <ul><li>Process stages (cf. ISEA 2008 , AoIR 2008 papers): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>data gathering and processing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>track large number of (broadly) political Australian blogs through RSS feeds </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>scrape blog content for newly posted entries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>separate blog post content from ancillary materials / separate discursive links from other link types </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(grow master list of blogs as required) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>content analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>combine extracted blog post content (per blog, per cluster, per timeframe, …) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>automated analysis to identify key themes and keywords </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>currently using Leximancer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>network analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>combine extracted link information (overall, per timeframe, per cluster, …) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>automated network mapping to identify lead blogs and clusters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>currently using VOSON, Pajek, and UCINet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>combined analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. comparative content analysis for lead blogs and clusters in the link network </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. correlation of blogosphere patterns with external factors (parallel themes in MSM, etc.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>(First iteration Nov. 2007 to Jan. 2008; second iteration Jan. 2009 to present) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Australian Politics Online in 2009 <ul><li>Key themes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Global financial crisis and federal government response (throughout 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Obama inauguration (20 Jan. 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Devastating bushfires in Victoria (early Feb. 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Queensland state election (23 Feb. – 21 Mar. 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal budget (12 May 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Ozcar’ or ‘Utegate’ affair (June-Aug. 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Underlying background: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Well-established Labor government, mid-way through first term </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approval ratings high for PM Rudd, low for Opposition Leader Turnbull </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large stimulus spending: Australia only developed nation not in recession </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Substantial debate about global warming policies (esp. carbon reduction targets) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Rusted-on’ conservative commentariat in some MSM outlets </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Overall Patterns of Activity (Jan.-Aug. 2009) Bushfires Budget Artefact Qld Election New Sites Added
  5. 5. MSM Patterns of Activity (Jan.-Aug. 2009) Bushfires Budget Artefact Qld Election Utegate Pt. 2?
  6. 6. Blog Patterns of Activity (Jan.-Aug. 2009) Bushfires Budget Artefact Qld Election Obama Utegate Pt. 1 Utegate Pt. 2
  7. 7. Opinion Patterns of Activity (Jan.-Aug. 2009) Australia Day Budget Qld Election Obama Utegate Pt. 2 Artefact
  8. 8. Top Posters (including MSM)
  9. 9. Top Posters (Blogs and Opinion Columns)
  10. 10. Bushfires in Victoria (~ 7-12 Feb. 2009) <ul><li>‘ Black Saturday ’ bushfires: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Caused by intense heatwave (> 45°C+ or 110°F) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Triggered by arson, downed powerlines, lightning, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Started on Saturday 7 February 2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>173 deaths recorded, 2000+ houses destroyed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4500 km 2 burnt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kinglake / Marysville area worst affected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Substantial displacement of residents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questions raised over emergency alert systems and bushfire preparedness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Final fires put out in mid-March </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Images: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Victorian_bushfires ) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 7 February 2009
  12. 12. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 8 February 2009
  13. 13. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 9 February 2009
  14. 14. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 7-9 February 2009
  15. 15. ‘ Ozcar’ Affair <ul><li>‘ Utegate ’ (~ June to August 2009): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2007: car dealer John Grant donates a ‘ute’ (utility vehicle) to Kevin Rudd’s PM election campaign </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>February 2009: Grant enquires about federal assistance under the ‘Ozcar’ financial stimulus scheme </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 June 2009: Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull alleges that Rudd asked Treasury for preferential treatment of Grant, also implicates Treasurer Wayne Swan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 June 2009: Treasury official Godwin Grech testifies in Senate enquiry, claims pressure from superiors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>19 June 2009: Opposition Senator Abetz reads from alleged email from PM advisor to Grech during Senate enquiry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>19 June 2009: Turnbull accuses Rudd of corruption and lying to parliament </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>22 June 2009: Federal Police raid Grech’s house and find email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>22 June 2009: Email found to be fake, created by Grech </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>July: Claims Turnbull and Abetz coached Grech’s Senate testimony (unsubstantiated) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>July: Turnbull’s approval rating as Opposition Leader plummets to record lows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 Aug. 2009: Grech admits forging email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 Aug. 2009: Auditor-General’s report finds no wrongdoing by PM or Treasurer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Image: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/24/2606943.htm ) </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 19 June 2009
  17. 17. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 19 June 2009 (detail)
  18. 18. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 20 June 2009
  19. 19. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 21 June 2009
  20. 20. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 22 June 2009
  21. 21. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 23 June 2009
  22. 22. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 24 June 2009
  23. 23. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 4 Aug. 2009
  24. 24. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 5 Aug. 2009
  25. 25. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 19-24 June 2009
  26. 26. Key Themes in the Blogosphere 4-5 August 2009
  27. 27. Analysis <ul><li>Victorian Bushfires: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tracking the growth of a story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited engagement from the blogosphere due to lack of first-hand access to information, holiday season </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift towards wider issues: climate change, emergency alert systems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Utegate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distraction from major themes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cynics: opposition attempt to disrupt coverage of government’s budget stimulus and opposition’s inaction on carbon reduction policy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ute backfire: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Turnbull linked ever more closely with affair, no traction on other issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rudd central to other political coverage, increasingly distant from Utegate issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Main blogosphere coverage remains focussed on economy, climate change </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Further Research <ul><li>Deeper analysis: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comparison between MSM and blogosphere coverage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examination of concept rankings and relations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link network analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis of further events and issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comprehensive longitudinal examination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refinement of overall methodology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Background information: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Network and Concept Maps for the Blogosphere ” (Bruns, Kirchhoff, Nicolai, Wilson, Saunders, Highfield, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Utegate as told by LOLCatz </li></ul></ul>

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