The Web and its Publics Tommaso Venturini  & Jean-Philippe Cointet .
The Internet Imaginaire Patrice Flichy 2007, MIT Press The founding utopias of computer communication not only guided the ...
all watched over by machines of loving grace Richard Brautigan 1967 I like to think (and the sooner the better!) of a cybe...
World Earth Catalogue Fred Turner From Counterculture to Cyberculture University Of Chicago Press (2006)
The spirit of Internet Dominique Cardon La démocratie Internet Seuil (2010) On a beaucoup souligné les origines militaires...
A new Athens Albert Gore Remarks at International Telecom Union Buenos Aires, 21 March 1994 “ In a sense, the Global Infor...
Digital divide International Telecommunication Union 2010 Report
Infrastructure ownership Ben Worthen (CIO) & Bill Cheswick (Lumeta)
Internet censorship OpenNet Initiative Global Internet Filtering Map
client/server asymmetry Facebook Terms of service
client/server asymmetry Wikipedia 2010 Fundraising campaign
An empirical question Does technical symmetry guarantees communication equality ? Irving Kristol (1920-2009):  “ Democracy...
Web Audience Alexa.com
Web Audience Compete.com
Web Audience Quantcast.com
Web Audience Google Analytics
From audience to links Because citations, or links, are ways of directing attention, the important documents correspond to...
From audience to links Lawrence Page Pagerank Patent (6285999)
Visible not (necessarily) influent <ul><li>Being influent requires being viewed ex. Bit.ly </li></ul><ul><li>Being influen...
The Web as a scale-free network Barabasi, A, Albert, R., & Jeong, H. (2000). Scale-free characteristics of random networks...
Preferential connectivity Barabasi, A, Albert, R., & Jeong, H. (2000). Scale-free characteristics of random networks: the ...
The law of power Similar mechanisms could explain the origin of the social and economic disparities governing competitive ...
The Matthew effect Robert Merton (1968) Science, 159(3810): 56-63 For unto every one that have shall be given, and he shal...
The law of power
The Daily Me Nicholas Negroponte Being Digital Knopf (2005)
The long tail Chris Anderson Wired (October 2004)
The Web as a narrowcasting medium Cass Sunstein (2001) Republic.com Princeton University Press When the power to filter is...
The Web as a broadcasting medium Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
The Web as a broadcasting medium Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
The Web concentration Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
First, Googlearchy suggests that the number of links pointing to a site is the most important determinant of site visibili...
The impossibility of online democracy
A binary model of communication
The citizens give but little of his time to public affairs, has but the casual interest in facts and but a poor appetite f...
Online communication is intermittent
Politics is marginal p. 61 Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
The public is plural John Dewey The public and its problems Gateway Books (1946) It is a matter of necessity for him [the ...
Online communication is plural
The public is layered Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Gaudet The People's Choice Columbia University Press (1948) Katz, E. (1957)...
Online communication is layered Linkscape by Linkfluence
A cluster of clusters Linkscape by Linkfluence
A pragmatic model of communication
Democracy lies in the middle
The missing middle ?
The missing middle ? Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
The Web is fractal, so it is everywhere the same Second, Googlearchy indicates that niche dominance should be a general ru...
A cluster of clusters Linkscape by Linkfluence
Nothing happens at the top
Nothing happens at the top? May 2007: traffic among the top 50 website sites according to Hitwise (Hindman, 2008)  p. 62
Nothing matters at the bottom
Nothing matters at the bottom? Yochai Benkler - médialab Sciences Po inauguration  (29 May 2009)
Where the action is
Where the action is
1. at a microlevel, sites cluster—in particular, topically and interest-related sites link much more heavily to each other...
Things change Yochai Benkler - médialab Sciences Po inauguration  (29 May 2009)
It turns out that we are not intellectual lemmings. We do not use the freedom that the network has made possible to plunge...
Stable distribution, unstable composition Spinning top model Lazega, 2006
Stable distribution, unstable composition Social and Semantic co-evolution in knowledge networks Roth et al 2010 Degree di...
Stable distribution, unstable composition p. 62
Preferential behaviors: Degree is not everything Social and semantic co-evolution in knowledge networks Roth et al 2010 Pr...
Stable distribution, unstable composition Paths of Glory Cardon, Fouetillou, Roth, 2011 Linking typology Positions change
Social and Semantic co-evolution in knowledge networks Roth et al 2010 Topological distance Semantic distance Preferential...
Influence from the node neighboorhood Influent neighbours Local networks, local topics: structural and semantic proximity ...
Degree & topological distance Complex interaction between dimensions Local networks, local topics Cointet et al 2010 Seman...
Issues & public duality, a pragmatic answer Monitoring web dynamics Chavalarias et al. http://veilledynamique.com/veille/m...
Conclusion Divided they Blog Adamic & Glance, 2004
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The Web and its Publics (by Tommaso Venturini & Jean-Philippe Cointet)

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Presentation given by Tommaso Venturini and Jean-Philippe Cointet at the seminar of the research group "Ethique, Technologies, Organisations, Société (ETOS)" of the Institut TELECOM / TEM Research and the Centre de recherche Sens, Ethique, Société (CERSES), and the New York University / NYU in France.

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  • The founding utopias of computer communication not only guided the initial Arpanet project but also constantly interacted with its technical realization. As the technical project took shape and developed, new utopias appeared (the idea of communication and interaction replaced that of distance calculation), feeding on early experiments and orienting future technical options and their uses. This exceptional virtuous circle of the elaboration of utopias, technical work, and the construction of uses was possible because it took place in a relatively closed and uniform community that saw it as a working tool that it both needed and could organize to suit its own practices. The hacker culture clearly had certain points in common with the hippie counterculture and with Arpanauts’ representations. It shared the same refusal of centralized and commercial information technology that IBM symbolized at the time. The main difference between the two cultures lay in hackers’ far broader view of the use and future of IT. For them it was not only an intellectual tool for academics but also a device to put into everyone’s hands, capable of building not only new invisible colleges but also a new society (p. 67)
  • On a beaucoup souligné les origines militaires d&apos;Internet… Mais la chose est désormais établie: Internet est surtout né de la rencontre entre la contre-culture américaine et l&apos;esprit méritocratie du monde de la recherche (p. 1). Chercheurs, artistes, militants, passionnés et freaks de toutes espèces, les premier publics de l&apos;Internet, y ont fait proliférer des utopies futuristes, des expérimentations esthétiques, des provocations et des gestes politiques d&apos;un nouveau genre (p. 2). [Les hippies] explorent aussi la manière dont l&apos;information fait systèmes, construisent des dômes géodésiques, développent un agriculture biologiques et toutes sortes d&apos;outils d&apos;autoproduction afin de préserver leur autonomie. De façon paradoxale, c&apos;est au sein de cette mouvance communautaire, écologiste et autarcique, que la culture des pionniers de l&apos;internet plonge ses racines (p. 22)
  • Although Internet technologies have extended to the whole planet, their coverage is not uniform. According to the latest report by the International Telecommunication Union (http://www.itu.int), while over 70% of the population of developed countries has access to online communication, the figure falls to 21% for developing countries and only 9.6% for Africa . These figures, moreover, hide the differences in the quality of Internet connections. Whereas bandwidth is growing broader and broader in Europe and the United States, less than 1% of Africans have access to high-speed Internet. Though most observers predict a rapid connectivity growth in developing countries in the next few years, such growth is likely to be assured by mobile devices and, in particular, mobile phones. Compared to the personal computer, such devices are cheaper and easier and do not require wiring infrastructures. Still, their capacity for transmitting, receiving and playing multimedia communication is limited. Therefore, when celebrating the capability of the Web to provide a rich and multimedia access to science and technology, we will have to bear in mind that such access is only available to a privileged minority. For the majority of world population, online communication remains limited to text and numbers.
  • Bandwidth inequalities, however, are only one of the several asymmetries of the Internet. Another important disparity comes from the fact that, although the access to digital networks is relatively inexpensive, the construction and maintenance of these networks is not. Consequently, everywhere in the world, Internet infrastructures are largely controlled by national monopolies and private oligopolies. In some countries, this results in a subtle system of restrictions to Web communications or in plain censorship. In many others, it does not and yet, even where the access to the Web is democratic, the ownership is not.
  • Bandwidth inequalities, however, are only one of the several asymmetries of the Internet. Another important disparity comes from the fact that, although the access to digital networks is relatively inexpensive, the construction and maintenance of these networks is not. Consequently, everywhere in the world, Internet infrastructures are largely controlled by national monopolies and private oligopolies. In some countries, this results in a subtle system of restrictions to Web communications or in plain censorship. In many others, it does not and yet, even where the access to the Web is democratic, the ownership is not (Benkler, 1998).
  • Finally, the Web is built on numerous protocols which rule the way connections, information exchange are set. Those protocols bring an asymmetry between the nodes constituting the Internet (Galloway, 2004). The very first one is the client-server divide. Although the peer-to-peer model of exchanges has been developed, daily uses are mainly set on the model of a client (a laptop, a smartphone...) interacting with a server on which a service is hosted. As a consequence, one should not forget that online interaction is only possible to the extent allowed by servers&apos; administrators. This is especially true for the so-called Web 2.0, which inherited the focus on collective cultural production of the earlier peer-to-peer movement, but not the egalitarian organization. Though emphasizing user contribution to the production of contents, the Web 2.0 has developed around a number of online platforms rigidly controlled by their administrators . The amazing openness of websites like Wikipedia, YouTube or Facebook, where anyone can freely share (almost) any content, should not lead us to forget that all the content is stored in server farms owned and managed by a handful of individuals, associations or corporations. And this hosting has a cost as the recent events like the denied announcement of Delicious social bookmarking service closing by Yahoo! (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/yahoo-may-shut-down-some-services/?scp=2&amp;sq=delicious&amp;st= cse) or the latest wikipedia donation campaign remind us.
  • Finally, the Web is built on numerous protocols which rule the way connections, information exchange are set. Those protocols bring an asymmetry between the nodes constituting the Internet (Galloway, 2004). The very first one is the client-server divide. Although the peer-to-peer model of exchanges has been developed, daily uses are mainly set on the model of a client (a laptop, a smartphone...) interacting with a server on which a service is hosted. As a consequence, one should not forget that online interaction is only possible to the extent allowed by servers&apos; administrators. This is especially true for the so-called Web 2.0, which inherited the focus on collective cultural production of the earlier peer-to-peer movement, but not the egalitarian organization. Though emphasizing user contribution to the production of contents, the Web 2.0 has developed around a number of online platforms rigidly controlled by their administrators . The amazing openness of websites like Wikipedia, YouTube or Facebook, where anyone can freely share (almost) any content, should not lead us to forget that all the content is stored in server farms owned and managed by a handful of individuals, associations or corporations. And this hosting has a cost as the recent events like the denied announcement of Delicious social bookmarking service closing by Yahoo! (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/yahoo-may-shut-down-some-services/?scp=2&amp;sq=delicious&amp;st= cse) or the latest wikipedia donation campaign remind us.
  • There are three ways to measure web traffic. The first is user-focused and based on software installed on user machines. Services like Alexa and Compete get users to install software on their computers and then track surfing habits to come up with best guesses on Internet-wide traffic. It works in theory, but getting enough users to get statistically relevant results has proven challenging. Alexa is famously flawed, and while Compete seems to be somewhat better, it only tracks U.S. users. Comscore is another user-focused metrics company that tends to work well for large sites, not well at all for newcomers (and it is very expensive to access their database). A second way to determine site useage is to track traffic directly from websites. Quantcast combines user surveys with direct tracking on websites (when they can get it) to estimate traffic. Comscore also does this with certain sites. The third way is to track surfing behaviors via records from ISPs. Hitwise uses this method to provide web analytics to clients. None of these services are particularly accurate (as can be seen by the fact that they almost always disagree with eachother). The problem is simply gathering enough data from enough users to be able to draw a picture-perfect image of actual Internet usage. That’s why I’ve called for Google to offer users to make their Google Analytics data publicly available . Would many people do it? Just the ones that want us to trust the user numbers and page views they claim.
  • Fig. 1. The distribution of (a) outgoing links (URLs found on an HTML document) and (b) incoming links (URLs pointing to a certain HTML document). The data were obtained from the complete map of the nd.edu domain, that contains 325; 729 documents and 1; 469; 680 links. for the incoming links: the probability of Finding very popular addresses, to which a large number of other documents point, is non-negligible, an indication of the flocking sociology of the www. Furthermore, while the owner of each web page has complete freedom in choosing the number of links on a document and the addresses to which they point, the overall system obeys scaling laws characteristic only of highly interactive self-organized systems and critical phenomena
  • First, the current network models assume that we start with a fixed number (N) of vertices, that are then randomly connected or reconnected, without modifying N. In contrast, most real world networks are open, i.e., they form by the continuous addition of new vertices to the system, thus the number of vertices, N, increases throughout the lifetime of the network. For example, the www grows exponentially in time by the addition of new web pages. Consequently, the network continuously expands by the addition of new vertices that are connected to the vertices already present in the system. Second, the random network models assume that the probability that two vertices are connected is random and uniform. In contrast, most real networks exhibit preferential connectivity. For example, a newly created webpage will more likely include links to well known, popular documents with already high connectivity. This example indicates that the probability with which a new vertex connects to the existing vertices is not uniform, but there is a higher probability to be linked to a vertex that already has a large number of connections. A simple model incorporating only these two ingredients naturally leads to the observed scale invariant distribution.
  • Growth and preferential attachment are mechanisms common to a number of complex systems, including business networks, social networks (describing individuals or organizations), transportation networks [25], etc. Consequently, we expect that the scale-invariant state, observed in all systems for which detailed data has been available to us, is a generic property of many complex networks, its applicability reaching far beyond the www. Similar mechanisms could explain the origin of the social and economic disparities governing competitive systems, since the scale-free inhomogeneities are the inevitable consequence of self-organization due to the local decisions made by the individual vertices, based on information that is biased towards the more visible (richer) vertices, irrespective of the nature and the origin of this visibility.
  • A theme that runs through the interviews with the Nobel laureates. They repeatedly observe that eminent scientists get disproportionately great credit for their contributions to science while relatively unknown scientists tend to get disproportionately little credit for comparable contributions. As one laureate in physics put it : “The world is peculiar in this matter of how it gives credit. It tends to give the credit to [already] famous people&amp;quot; In papers coauthored by men of decidedly unequal reputation, another laureate in physics reports, “the man who’s best known gets more credit, an inordinate amount of Credit&amp;quot;. In the words of a laureate in chemistry: “When people see my name on a paper, they are apt to remember it and not to remember the other names.” When approximately the same ideas or findings are independently communicated by a scientist of great repute and by one not yet widely known, it is the first, we are told, who ordinarily receives prime recognition. This complex pattern of the misallocation of credit for scientific work must quite evidently be described as “the Matthew effect,” for, as will be remembered, the Gospel According to St. Matthew puts it this way: For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shail have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Put in less stately language, the Matthew effect consists in the accruing of greater increments of recognition for particular scientific contributions to scientists of considerable repute and the withholding of such recognition from scientists who have not yet made their mark. A scientific contribution will have greater visibility in the community of scientists when it is introduced by a scientist of high rank than when it is introduced by one who has not yet made his mark There is reason to assume that the communication function of the Matthew effect is increasing in frequency and intensity with the exponential increase in the volume of scientific publications, which makes it increasingly difficult for scientists to keep UP with work in their field. Confronted with the growing task of identifying significant work published in their field, scientists search for cues to what they should attend to. One such clue is the professional reputation of the authors
  • Imagine a future in which your interface agent can read every newswire and newspaper and catch every TV and radio broadcast on the planet, and then construct a personalized summary. This kind of newspaper is printed in an edition of one… What is a newspaper company were willing to put its entire staff at your back and call for one edition? It would mix headline news with &amp;quot;less important&amp;quot; stories relating to acquaintances, people you will see tomorrow places you are about to go or have just come from. It would report on companies you know. In fact, under these conditions, you might be willing to pay the Boston Globe a lot more for ten pages than for hundred pages, if you could be confident that it was delivering you the right subset of information. You would consume every bit (so to speak). Call it The Daily Me. (p. 153) Imagine a computer display of news stories with a knob that, like a volume control, allows you to crank personalization up or down. You could have many of these controls, including a slider that moves both literally and politically from left to right to modify stories about public affairs. These controls change your window onto the news, both in terms of size and its editorial tone. In the distant future, interface agents will read, listen to, and look at each story in its entirety. In the near future, the filtering process will happen by using headers, those bits about bits (p. 154)
  • You can find everything out there on the Long Tail. There&apos;s the back catalog, older albums still fondly remembered by longtime fans or rediscovered by new ones. There are live tracks, B-sides, remixes, even (gasp) covers. There are niches by the thousands, genre within genre within genre: Imagine an entire Tower Records devoted to &apos;80s hair bands or ambient dub. There are foreign bands, once priced out of reach in the Import aisle, and obscure bands on even more obscure labels, many of which don&apos;t have the distribution clout to get into Tower at all. What&apos;s really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you&apos;ve got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes &amp; Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon&apos;s book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are (see &amp;quot;Anatomy of the Long Tail&amp;quot;). In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the economics of scarcity.
  • It is some time in the future. Technology has greatly increased people’s ability to “filter” what they want to read, see, and hear. General interest newspapers and magazines are largely a thing of the past. The same is true of broadcasters… With the aid of a television or computer screen, and the Internet, you are able to design your own newspapers and magazines. Having dispensed with broadcasters, you can choose your own video programming, with movies, game shows, sports, shopping, and news of your choice. You mix and match. You need not come across topics and views that you have not sought out. Without any difficulty, you are able to see exactly what you want to see, no more and no less. The market for news, entertainment, and information has finally been perfected. Consumers are able to see exactly what they want. When the power to filter is unlimited, people can decide, in advance and with perfect accuracy, what they will and will not encounter. They can design something very much like a communications universe of their own choosing. I will emphasize the risks posed by any situation in which thousands or perhaps millions or even tens of millions of people are mainly listening to louder echoes of their own voices. A situation of this kind is likely to produce far worse than mere fragmentation. The emerging situation does contain large differences, stemming above all from a dramatic increase in available options, a simultaneous increase in individual control over content, and a corresponding decrease in the power of general interest intermediaries. These include newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters. People who rely on such intermediaries have a range of chance encounters, involving shared experiences with diverse others, and also exposure to materials and topics that they did not seek out in advance. A system in which individuals lack control over the particular content that they see has a great deal in common with a public street, where you might encounter not only friends, but also a heterogeneous array of people engaged in a wide array of activities. I will emphasize the risks posed by any situation in which thousands or perhaps millions or even tens of millions of people are mainly listening to louder echoes of their own voices. A situation of this kind is likely to produce far worse than mere fragmentation (p. 16)
  • Two lessons are clear: First, the number of highly visible sites is small by any measure. It seems a general property of political communities online that a handful of sites at the top of the distribution receive more links than the rest of relevant sites put together. Second, comparative visibility drops off in a highly regular and extremely rapid fashion once one moves outside the core group of successful sites. The Falloff in site visibility is not linear; rather, it follows an exponential function over many orders of magnitude.
  • I have been reading some of the new standard textbooks used to teach citizenship in schools and colleges. After reading them I do not see how any one can escape the conclusion that a man must have the appetite of an encyclopaedist and infinite time ahead of him (p. 13) He, the voter, the citizen, the sovereign, is apparently expected to yield an unlimited quantity of public spirit, interest, curiosity and effort (p. 14). The author of the textbook… misses a decisive fact: the citizens give but little of his time to public affairs, has but the casual interest in facts and but a poor appetite for theory (p. 14, 15) I think it is a false ideal. I do not mean an undesirable ideal. I mean an unattainable ideal, bad only in the sense that it is bad for a fat man to try to be a ballet dancer… The ideal of the omnicompetent, sovereign citizen is, in my opinion, such a false ideal. It is unattainable… and there is not the least reason for thinking, as mystical democrats have thought, that the compounding of individual ignorance in masses of people can produce a continuous force in public affairs (p. 15). We must assume that the members of a public will not anticipate a problem much before its crisis has become obvious, nor stay with the problem long after its crisis has past. They will not know the antecedent events, will not have seen the issue as it developed, will not have thought out or willed a program, and will not be able to predict the consequences of acting on that program. We must assume as a theoretically fixed premise of popular government that normally men as members of a public will not be well informed, continuously interested, nonpartisan, creative, or executive. We must assume that a public is inexpert in its curiosity, intermittent, and that it discerns only gross distinctions, is slow to be aroused, and quickly diverted; that, since it acts by aligning itself, it personalizes whatever it considers, and is interested only when events have been melodramatized as a conflict (p. 53, 54). The public will arrive in the middle of the third act and will leave before the last curtain, having stayed just long enough perhaps to decide who is the hero and who is the villain of the piece (p. 55). The work of the world goes on continually without conscious direction from public opinion. At certain junctures problem arise. It is only with the crises of some of these problems that public opinion is concerned. And it subject in dealing with a crisis is to help allay that crisis (p. 56). If it had seriously to crusade for justice in every issue it touches, the public would have to be dealing with all situations all the time. That is impossible. It is also undesirable (p. 57). The public consists of busy men reading newspapers for half an hour or so a day (p. 109)
  • It is a matter of necessity for him, as a rule, to limit his attention and foresight to matters which, as we say, are distinctively his own business (p. 52). If there were no general rules in existence, soon be lost in a hopelessly complicated muddle of considerations. The man of the most generous outlook has to draw the line somewhere (p. 52). The public consists of all those who are affected by the indirect consequences of transactions to such an extent that it is deemed necessary to have those consequences systematically catered for (pp. 16-17) In no two ages or places is there the same public. Conditions male the consequences of the associated action and the knowledge of them different (p. 33). It is not that there is no public, no large body of persons having common interest in the consequences of the social transactions. There is too much public, a public too diffused and scattered and too intricate in composition. And there are too many publics, for conjoint actions which have indirect, serious and enduring consequences are multitudinous beyond comparison, and each of them crosses the others and generates its own group of persons especially affected with little to hold these different publics together in an integrated whole (p. 137).
  • The analysis of the process of decision-making during the course of an election campaign led the authors of The People&apos;s Choice to suggest that the flow of mass communications may be less direct than was commonly supposed. It may be, they proposed, that influences stemming from the mass media first reach &amp;quot;opinion leaders&amp;quot; who, in turn, pass on what they read and hear to those of their every-day associates for whom they are influential. This hypothesis was called &amp;quot;the two-step flow of communication&amp;quot; (p. 61). It was a healthy sign, they felt, that people were still most successfully persuaded by give-and-take with other people and that the influence of the mass media was less automatic and less potent than had been assumed. For social theory, and for the design of communications research, the hypothesis suggested that the image of modern urban society needed revision. The image of the audience as a mass of disconnected individuals hooked up to the media but not to each other could not be reconciled with the idea of a two-step flow of communication implying, as it did, networks of interconnected individuals through which mass communications are channeled (p. 61). Elmira study revealed that the opinion leaders themselves often reported that their own de- cisions were influenced by still other people.20 It began to seem desirable, therefore, to think in terms of the opinion leaders of opinion leaders.2&apos; Sec- ondly, it became clear that opinion leadership could not be viewed as a &amp;quot;trait&amp;quot; which some people possess and others do not, although the voting study some- times implied this view. Instead, it seemed quite apparent that the opinion leader is influential at certain times and with respect to certain substantive areas by virtue of the fact that he is &amp;quot;empowered&amp;quot; to be so by other members of his group (p. 68)
  • The biggest story here is not the long tail but what we might call the “missing middle”. From the beginning, the Internet has been portrayed as a media Robin Hood – robbing audience from the big print and broadcast outlets, and giving it to the little guys. But the data… suggest that audiences are moving in both directions. On the one hand, the news market in cyberspace seems even more concentrated on the top ten or twenty outlets than print media is. On the other, the tiniest outlets have indeed earned a substantial portion of the total eyeballs… It is the middle-class outlets that have seen relative decline in the online world (p. 100).
  • What scholars have not generally understood, though, is that these winners-take-all patterns are repeated on every level of the Web (p. 57) The ability to subdivide the Web into millions of niches does not guarantee an egalitarian outcome, any more than the Zeno’s paradox guarantees that an arrow in flight will never hit its target (p. 100).
  • Individuals and individual organizations cluster around topical, organizational, or other common features. At a sufficiently fine-grained degree of clustering, a substantial proportion of the clustered sites are moderately connected, and each can therefore be a point of intake that will effectively transmit observations or opinions within and among the users of that topical or interest-based cluster. Because even in small clusters the distribution of links still has a long tail, these smaller clusters still include high-visibility nodes. These relatively high-visibility nodes can serve as points of transfer to larger clusters, acting as an attention backbone that transmits information among clusters. The higher level or larger clusters again exhibit a similar feature, where higher visibility nodes can serve as clearinghouses and connectivity points among clusters and across the Web. These are all highly connected with redundant links within a giant, strongly connected core—comprising more than a quarter of the nodes in any given level of cluster. The result is an ordered system of intake, filtering, and synthesis that can in theory emerge in networks generally, and empirically has been shown to have emerged on the Web. It does not depend on single points of control. It avoids the generation of a din through which no voice can be heard, as the fears of fragmentation predicted (p. 254).
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  • The Web and its Publics (by Tommaso Venturini & Jean-Philippe Cointet)

    1. 1. The Web and its Publics Tommaso Venturini & Jean-Philippe Cointet .
    2. 2. The Internet Imaginaire Patrice Flichy 2007, MIT Press The founding utopias of computer communication not only guided the initial Arpanet project but also constantly interacted with its technical realization. As the technical project took shape and developed, new utopias appeared (the idea of communication and interaction replaced that of distance calculation), feeding on early experiments and orienting future technical options and their uses (p. 65). The hacker culture clearly had certain points in common with the hippie counterculture and with Arpanauts’ representations. The main difference between the two cultures lay in hackers’ far broader view of the use and future of IT. For them it was not only an intellectual tool for academics but also a device to put into everyone’s hands, capable of building not only new invisible colleges but also a new society (p. 67)
    3. 3. all watched over by machines of loving grace Richard Brautigan 1967 I like to think (and the sooner the better!) of a cybernetic meadow where mammals and computers live together in mutually programming harmony like pure water touching clear sky I like to think (right now, please!) of a cybernetic forest filled with pines and electronics where deer stroll peacefully past computers as if they were flowers with spinning blossoms I like to think (it has to be!) of a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors and join back to nature, returned to our mammal brothers and sisters, and all watched over by machines of loving grace
    4. 4. World Earth Catalogue Fred Turner From Counterculture to Cyberculture University Of Chicago Press (2006)
    5. 5. The spirit of Internet Dominique Cardon La démocratie Internet Seuil (2010) On a beaucoup souligné les origines militaires d'Internet… Mais la chose est désormais établie: Internet est surtout né de la rencontre entre la contre-culture américaine et l'esprit méritocratie du monde de la recherche (p. 1). Chercheurs, artistes, militants, passionnés et freaks de toutes espèces, les premier publics de l'Internet, y ont fait proliférer des utopies futuristes, des expérimentations esthétiques, des provocations et des gestes politiques d'un nouveau genre (p. 2). [Les hippies] explorent aussi la manière dont l'information fait système … c'est au sein de cette mouvance communautaire, écologiste et autarcique, que la culture des pionniers de l'internet plonge ses racines (p. 22)
    6. 6. A new Athens Albert Gore Remarks at International Telecom Union Buenos Aires, 21 March 1994 “ In a sense, the Global Information Infrastructure will be a metaphor for democracy itself… it will in fact promote the functioning of democracy by greatly enhancing the participation of citizens in decision-making. And it will greatly promote the ability of nations to cooperate with each other. I see a new Athenian Age of democracy forged in the fora the Global Information Infrastructure will create.”
    7. 7. Digital divide International Telecommunication Union 2010 Report
    8. 8. Infrastructure ownership Ben Worthen (CIO) & Bill Cheswick (Lumeta)
    9. 9. Internet censorship OpenNet Initiative Global Internet Filtering Map
    10. 10. client/server asymmetry Facebook Terms of service
    11. 11. client/server asymmetry Wikipedia 2010 Fundraising campaign
    12. 12. An empirical question Does technical symmetry guarantees communication equality ? Irving Kristol (1920-2009): “ Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions it only guarantees equality of opportunities”
    13. 13. Web Audience Alexa.com
    14. 14. Web Audience Compete.com
    15. 15. Web Audience Quantcast.com
    16. 16. Web Audience Google Analytics
    17. 17. From audience to links Because citations, or links, are ways of directing attention, the important documents correspond to those documents to which the most attention is directed. Thus, a high rank indicates that a document is considered valuable by many people or by important people. Most likely, these are the pages to which someone performing a search would like to direct his or her attention. Looked at another way, the importance of a page is directly related to the steady-state probability that a random web surfer ends up at the page after following a large number of links. Because there is a larger probability that a surfer will end up at an important page than at an unimportant page, this method of ranking pages assigns higher ranks to the more important pages.
    18. 18. From audience to links Lawrence Page Pagerank Patent (6285999)
    19. 19. Visible not (necessarily) influent <ul><li>Being influent requires being viewed ex. Bit.ly </li></ul><ul><li>Being influent requires showing content ex. Get Acrobat Reader </li></ul><ul><li>Being influent requires producing content ex. Google Search </li></ul>
    20. 20. The Web as a scale-free network Barabasi, A, Albert, R., & Jeong, H. (2000). Scale-free characteristics of random networks: the topology of the world-wide web. Physica A:, 281(1-4), 69-77. The probability of finding very popular addresses, to which a large number of other documents point, is non-negligible, an indication of the flocking sociology of the www (p. 72)
    21. 21. Preferential connectivity Barabasi, A, Albert, R., & Jeong, H. (2000). Scale-free characteristics of random networks: the topology of the world-wide web. Physica A:, 281(1-4), 69-77. Real networks exhibit preferential connectivity. For example, a newly created webpage will more likely include links to well known, popular documents with already high connectivity (p. 73)
    22. 22. The law of power Similar mechanisms could explain the origin of the social and economic disparities governing competitive systems, since the scale-free inhomogeneities are the inevitable consequence of self-organization due to the local decisions made by the individual vertices, based on information that is biased towards the more visible (richer) vertices, irrespective of the nature and the origin of this visibility (p. 77) Barabasi, A, Albert, R., & Jeong, H. (2000). Scale-free characteristics of random networks: the topology of the world-wide web. Physica A:, 281(1-4), 69-77.
    23. 23. The Matthew effect Robert Merton (1968) Science, 159(3810): 56-63 For unto every one that have shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that have not shall be taken away even that which he have» (p. 59) A scientific contribution will have greater visibility in the community of scientists when it is introduced by a scientist of high rank (p. 60) Confronted with the growing task of identifying significant work published in their field, scientists search for cues to what they should attend to. One such clue is the professional reputation of the authors (p. 60)
    24. 24. The law of power
    25. 25. The Daily Me Nicholas Negroponte Being Digital Knopf (2005)
    26. 26. The long tail Chris Anderson Wired (October 2004)
    27. 27. The Web as a narrowcasting medium Cass Sunstein (2001) Republic.com Princeton University Press When the power to filter is unlimited, people can decide, in advance and with perfect accuracy, what they will and will not encounter. They can design something very much like a communications universe of their own choosing (p. 5) I will emphasize the risks posed by any situation in which thousands or perhaps millions or even tens of millions of people are mainly listening to louder echoes of their own voices. A situation of this kind is likely to produce far worse than mere fragmentation (p. 16)
    28. 28. The Web as a broadcasting medium Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
    29. 29. The Web as a broadcasting medium Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
    30. 30. The Web concentration Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
    31. 31. First, Googlearchy suggests that the number of links pointing to a site is the most important determinant of site visibility. Second, Googlearchy indicates that niche dominance should be a general rule of online life. For every clearly defined group of Web sites, a small portion of the group should receive most of the links and most of the traffic. Third, Googlearchy suggests that this dependence on links should make niche dominance self-perpetuating (p. 55). Googlearchy Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
    32. 32. The impossibility of online democracy
    33. 33. A binary model of communication
    34. 34. The citizens give but little of his time to public affairs, has but the casual interest in facts and but a poor appetite for theory (p. 14) I think it is a false ideal. I do not mean an undesirable ideal. I mean an unattainable ideal, bad only in the sense that it is bad for a fat man to try to be a ballet dancer… The ideal of the omnicompetent, sovereign citizen is, in my opinion, such a false ideal. It is unattainable (p. 15) The public will arrive in the middle of the third act and will leave before the last curtain, having stayed just long enough perhaps to decide who is the hero and who is the villain of the piece (p. 55). The work of the world goes on continually without conscious direction from public opinion. At certain junctures problem arise. It is only with the crises of some of these problems that public opinion is concerned. And it subject in dealing with a crisis is to help allay that crisis (p. 56). The public is intermittent Walter Lippmann The Phantom Public The Macmillan Company (1927)
    35. 35. Online communication is intermittent
    36. 36. Politics is marginal p. 61 Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
    37. 37. The public is plural John Dewey The public and its problems Gateway Books (1946) It is a matter of necessity for him [the citizens], as a rule, to limit his attention and foresight to matters which, as we say, are distinctively his own business (p. 52). The public consists of all those who are affected by the indirect consequences of transactions to such an extent that it is deemed necessary to have those consequences systematically catered for (pp. 16-17). In no two ages or places is there the same public. Conditions male the consequences of the associated action and the knowledge of them different (p. 33). It is not that there is no public... There is too much public, a public too diffused and scattered and too intricate in composition. And there are too many publics (p. 137)
    38. 38. Online communication is plural
    39. 39. The public is layered Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Gaudet The People's Choice Columbia University Press (1948) Katz, E. (1957). The Two-Step Flow of Communication: Up-To-Date Report on an Hypothesis. Public Opinion Quarterly, 21 Influences stemming from the mass media first reach “opinion leaders” who, in turn, pass on what they read and hear to those of their every-day associates for whom they are influential. This hypothesis was called “the two-step flow of communication” (p. 61). The image of the audience as a mass of disconnected individuals hooked up to the media but not to each other could not be reconciled with the idea of a two-step flow of communication implying… networks of interconnected individuals (p. 61). it seemed quite apparent that the opinion leader is influential at certain times and with respect to certain substantive areas by virtue of the fact that he is &quot;empowered&quot; to be so by other members of his group (p. 68).
    40. 40. Online communication is layered Linkscape by Linkfluence
    41. 41. A cluster of clusters Linkscape by Linkfluence
    42. 42. A pragmatic model of communication
    43. 43. Democracy lies in the middle
    44. 44. The missing middle ?
    45. 45. The missing middle ? Matthiew Hindman The Myth of Digital Democracy Princeton University Press (2008)
    46. 46. The Web is fractal, so it is everywhere the same Second, Googlearchy indicates that niche dominance should be a general rule of online life. For every clearly defined group of Web sites, a small portion of the group should receive most of the links and most of the traffic. In the Web, nothing happens where it matters Third, Googlearchy suggests that this dependence on links should make niche dominance self-perpetuating What Hindman assumes
    47. 47. A cluster of clusters Linkscape by Linkfluence
    48. 48. Nothing happens at the top
    49. 49. Nothing happens at the top? May 2007: traffic among the top 50 website sites according to Hitwise (Hindman, 2008) p. 62
    50. 50. Nothing matters at the bottom
    51. 51. Nothing matters at the bottom? Yochai Benkler - médialab Sciences Po inauguration (29 May 2009)
    52. 52. Where the action is
    53. 53. Where the action is
    54. 54. 1. at a microlevel, sites cluster—in particular, topically and interest-related sites link much more heavily to each other than to other sites. 2. at a macrolevel, the Web and the blogosphere have giant, strongly connected cores—“areas” where 20–30 percent of all sites are highly and redundantly interlinked… That pattern repeats in smaller subclusters as well. 3. as the clusters get small enough, the obscurity of sites participating in the cluster diminishes, while the visibility of the superstars remains high, forming a filtering and transmission backbone for universal intake and local filtering. 4. the Web exhibits “small-world” phenomena, making most Web sites reachable through shallow paths from most other Web sites (p. 247, 248). 4 features Yochai Benkler The Wealth of Networks Yale University Press (2006)
    55. 55. Things change Yochai Benkler - médialab Sciences Po inauguration (29 May 2009)
    56. 56. It turns out that we are not intellectual lemmings. We do not use the freedom that the network has made possible to plunge into the abyss of incoherent babble. Instead, through iterative processes of cooperative filtering and “transmission” through the high visibility nodes, the low-end thin tail turns out to be a peer-produced filter and transmission medium for a vastly larger number of speakers than was imaginable in the mass-media model (p. 255) “ We are not intellectual lemmings” Yochai Benkler The Wealth of Networks Yale University Press (2006)
    57. 57. Stable distribution, unstable composition Spinning top model Lazega, 2006
    58. 58. Stable distribution, unstable composition Social and Semantic co-evolution in knowledge networks Roth et al 2010 Degree distribution evolution
    59. 59. Stable distribution, unstable composition p. 62
    60. 60. Preferential behaviors: Degree is not everything Social and semantic co-evolution in knowledge networks Roth et al 2010 Preferential attachment Community structure
    61. 61. Stable distribution, unstable composition Paths of Glory Cardon, Fouetillou, Roth, 2011 Linking typology Positions change
    62. 62. Social and Semantic co-evolution in knowledge networks Roth et al 2010 Topological distance Semantic distance Preferential behaviors: Degree is not everything
    63. 63. Influence from the node neighboorhood Influent neighbours Local networks, local topics: structural and semantic proximity in blogspace Cointet et al 2010 Dyadic influence
    64. 64. Degree & topological distance Complex interaction between dimensions Local networks, local topics Cointet et al 2010 Semantic & topological distance
    65. 65. Issues & public duality, a pragmatic answer Monitoring web dynamics Chavalarias et al. http://veilledynamique.com/veille/mesr/cluster.php?id_cluster=4&periode=347-360&nav=soc
    66. 66. Conclusion Divided they Blog Adamic & Glance, 2004

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