Mapping the Arab Blogosphere

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ONLINE DISCOURSE IN THE ARAB WORLD: Dispelling the Myths

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Mapping the Arab Blogosphere

  1. 1. Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent presentation for US Institute for Peace June 17, 2009 John Palfrey Harvard University John Kelly Morningside Analytics Rob Faris Harvard University Harvard University Bruce Etling
  2. 2. Framework: Why the blogosphere?
  3. 3. Methods and Analysis: Core data: 35,000 Arabic language web logs meeting base criteria -determined by automated text analysis to be Arabic language -exclude blogspam, poorly connected blogs -exclude social network hybrids, platform-specific networks -except those that connect to central blogosphere Found no clear boundary with English, French! So… -identified English and French crossover blogs (approx 4,000) Social Network Mapping: selected 6,451 most connected, large network core structural clustering, attentive clustering, visualization Computer Analysis: text analysis, word and term frequencies metadata Human Coding: over 4000 blogs, 2 scripts, 10 Arabic speaking researchers Basic demographics Topics Qualitative descriptions
  4. 4. languages
  5. 5. languages English Scandinavian Persian Spanish French German Portuguese Hungarian Arabic Vietnamese Chinese Russian
  6. 6. Proximity Clusters:
  7. 7. Attentive Clusters:
  8. 8. 3-D Map Actually, it looks more like this:
  9. 9. Attentive Clusters:
  10. 10. Attentive Clusters:
  11. 11. Attentive Clusters: Western orientation Religious orientation
  12. 12. Major Zones: Levant/English Bridge
  13. 13. Major Zones: Maghreb/ French Bridge
  14. 14. Major Zones: Egyptian Blogosphere
  15. 15. Major Zones: National Arabic
  16. 16. Major Zones: Islam Focus
  17. 17. Surprises ?
  18. 18. 1 Where is Iraq?
  19. 19. metadata: tags
  20. 20. metadata: tags
  21. 21. metadata: tags
  22. 22. metadata: tags
  23. 23. metadata: tags
  24. 24. metadata: tags
  25. 25. metadata: tags
  26. 26. metadata: tags
  27. 27. metadata: tags
  28. 28. metadata: tags
  29. 29. metadata: tags
  30. 30. metadata: tags
  31. 31. 2 Media Ecosystem
  32. 32. outlink analysis Kuwait Arabic
  33. 33. outlink analysis Kuwait Arabic CLUSTER FOCUS INDEX
  34. 34. outlink analysis Kuwait Arabic sites preferred by this cluster CLUSTER FOCUS INDEX
  35. 35. outlink analysis Kuwait Arabic
  36. 36. outlink analysis
  37. 37. outlink analysis Muslim Brotherhood
  38. 38. outlink analysis Muslim Brotherhood CLUSTER FOCUS INDEX sites preferred by this cluster
  39. 39. outlink analysis Muslim Brotherhood
  40. 40. outlink analysis
  41. 41. outlink analysis
  42. 42. outlink analysis
  43. 43. outlink analysis
  44. 44. outlink analysis
  45. 45. outlink analysis
  46. 46. outlink analysis
  47. 47. 3 Everyone must be talking about America, right?
  48. 48. text analysis “ America” - 1 Year
  49. 49. text analysis “ corruption” - 1 Year
  50. 50. text analysis “ Palestine” - 1 Year issues bloggers discuss everywhere
  51. 51. text analysis “ Tomorrow Party” - 1 Year Egyptian reformist party
  52. 52. text analysis Speaker of Kuwaiti Nat’l Assembly “ Jassem Al-Kharafi” - 1 Year
  53. 53. human coding
  54. 54. human coding
  55. 55. human coding
  56. 56. text analysis “ corruption” - 2 weeks
  57. 57. text analysis “ Egypt” - 2 weeks
  58. 58. text analysis “ America” - 2 weeks
  59. 59. text analysis “ Obama” - 2 weeks
  60. 60. text analysis “ Obama” - 2 weeks
  61. 61. Surprises <ul><li>Iraq enmeshed in bridging region to English, US blogosphere </li></ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 platforms have largest reach, bigger even than Al Jazeera </li></ul><ul><li>US not a dominant topic: domestic issues, terrorism, internal cultural struggle is more important </li></ul>
  62. 62. Implications <ul><li>Results from the study: </li></ul><ul><li>We did not find a cluster focused on extremism or advocating violent jihad. </li></ul><ul><li>In the blogs in the public blogs we investigated, we did not find any significant support for extremism </li></ul><ul><li>It appears that this type of conversation is hidden in ‘private publics’—walled off private spaces such as password protected chat rooms </li></ul><ul><li>How can we promote free and open networked public sphere? </li></ul>
  63. 63. Implications Contact theory and bridge bloggers—The more contact (including virtual?) that groups have with one another, the greater their level of understanding and the lower the chances of conflict. Bridge bloggers are important interpreters of their home countries’ politics and cultures, perhaps allowing us to get beyond cartoonish views of one another, appreciate the complexity of views in the Arabic blogosphere. Problem: ‘mirror blogging’ Challenge: ‘bridge bloggers’ - understand who they are, levels of independence, and authenticity, just like traditional media. - be conscience of risks of elevating profile of bloggers who might then become the targets for state repression. - might too much attention hinder local development?
  64. 64. Future research <ul><li>Look at particular conflict zones, drill-down on issues, compare online and offline networks </li></ul><ul><li>Dig more deeply and with additional context into extremist views online in the Middle East. </li></ul><ul><li>Deeper textual analysis and human coding to understand framing in blogs. </li></ul><ul><li>Do blogs adopt frames of mainstream, often state owned media in conflict zones, or adopt different frames when discussing conflict. Is it a truly alternative medium? </li></ul>
  65. 65. Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent presentation for US Institute for Peace June 17, 2009 John Palfrey Harvard University John Kelly Morningside Analytics Rob Faris Harvard University Harvard University Bruce Etling

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