Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere
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Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere



Paper presented at the International Communication Association conference, Singapore, 25 June 2010.

Paper presented at the International Communication Association conference, Singapore, 25 June 2010.



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Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere Presentation Transcript

  • Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere
    • Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Tim Highfield ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Brisbane, Australia
    • Lars Kirchhoff, Thomas Nicolai Sociomantic Labs, Berlin, Germany
    Image by campoalto
  • Mapping Blog Networks
    • Standard methodology:
      • find blogs (search, Technorati, specific blog platform, etc.)
      • identify links (on current page)  crawl to linked pages  repeat
      • capture (scrape) text and other details (not always included)
      • plot link network structure, correlate with blog content patterns
    • Problems in blog mapping:
      • defining and identifying the population to be mapped
      • determining which links are relevant
      • method of plotting links, identifying blog clusters, etc.
      • correlating link network structure and blog themes
      • tracking changes over time
  • Key Problems
    • Technology limitations:
      • crawlers and scrapers often lack sophistication
      • need to distinguish:
        • posts – comments – ancillary / functional texts
        • discursive links – blogroll links – functional links
      • want to slice data in different ways:
        • select blog activity for specific days, weeks, months
        • select blog content and links for specific blogs or blog clusters
    • Analytical limitations:
      • patterns of interlinkage tell only part of the story
      • maps provide only a temporary snapshot
      • want to understand:
        • what clusters have in common
        • and how they change over time
  • Our Approach
    • Process stages (Australian political blogs as test case):
      • data gathering and processing
        • track large number of (broadly) political Australian blogs through RSS feeds
        • scrape blog content for newly posted entries
        • separate blog post content from ancillary materials / separate discursive links from other link types
        • (grow master list of blogs as required)
      • content analysis
        • combine extracted blog post content (per blog, per cluster, per timeframe, …)
        • automated analysis to identify key themes and keywords
        • currently using Leximancer
      • network analysis
        • combine extracted link information (overall, per timeframe, per cluster, …)
        • automated network mapping to identify lead blogs and clusters
        • currently using Gephi
      • combined analysis
        • e.g. comparative content analysis for lead blogs and clusters in the link network
        • e.g. correlation of blogosphere patterns with external factors (parallel themes in mainstream media, etc.)
  • Patterns of Activity (Jan.-Aug. 2009) Bushfires Budget Artefact Qld Election New Sites Added
  • Content Analysis: Individual Blogs
  • Content Analysis: Political Blogosphere 4-5 August 2009
  • Next Steps
    • ARC Discovery Project, 2010-12 (Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess)
    • Expand the population:
      • From political blogs to Australian blogs in general
      • Snowball / network crawler approach
    • Map the blogosphere:
      • Long-term map of frequent interlinkages, clusters of blog communities
      • Short-term maps of ad hoc networks around current events and themes
      • Trending topics and correlations with mainstream media
      • Patterns of information flow, structures of dissemination and influence
    • Extend to other online publics:
      • Twitter , Flickr , YouTube – what can we track, what publics do we find?
      • How are these spaces interconnected?