Locating The Australian Blogosphere (Isea 2008)


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Paper presented at ISEA 2008 in Singapore, 26 July 2008. For more, see http://gatewatching.org/.

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Locating The Australian Blogosphere (Isea 2008)

  1. 1. Locating the Australian Blogosphere: Towards a New Research Methodology Dr Axel Bruns, Dr Jason Wilson, Barry Saunders, Tim Highfield Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia a.bruns, j5.wilson, b.saunders, t.highfield@qut.edu.au Lars Kirchhoff, Thomas Nicolai Institute for Media and Communication Management, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland lars.kirchhoff, thomas.nicolai@unisg.ch
  2. 2. <ul><li>the blogosphere (Hurst 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>US political bloggers (Adamic & Glance 2005) </li></ul>Mapping Blogs US political blogs (Dean et al . 2004) Iranian political bloggers (Kelly & Etling 2005)
  3. 3. Purposes for Blog Mapping <ul><li>Research motivations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>identifying key sites and clusters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tracing flow of information across the blogosphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>exploring linkage between blogs and other sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>measuring (political / thematic) fragmentation or interlinkage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>comparisons across national / disciplinary boundaries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Broader questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>shape of the online ‘public sphere’ / ‘public spherules’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>role of the blogosphere in overall mediasphere / society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>application of media effects theories (opinion leaders, two-step flow, …) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Looking More Closely <ul><li>Standard methodology: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>find blogs (search, Technorati, specific blog platform, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>identify links (on current page)  crawl to linked pages  repeat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>capture (scrape) text and other details (not always included) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>plot link network structure, correlate with blog content patterns </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problems in blog mapping: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>defining and identifying the population to be mapped </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>determining which links are relevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>method of plotting links, identifying blog clusters, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>correlating link network structure and blog themes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tracking changes over time </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Key Problems <ul><li>Technology limitations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>crawlers and scrapers often lack sophistication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>need to distinguish: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>posts – comments – ancillary / functional texts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>discursive links – blogroll links – functional links </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>want to slice data in different ways: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>select blog activity for specific days, weeks, months </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>select blog content and links for specific blogs or blog clusters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Analytical limitations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>patterns of interlinkage tell only part of the story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>maps provide only a temporary snapshot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>want to understand: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>what clusters have in common </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and how they change over time </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Towards a New Approach <ul><li>Process stages (Australian political blogs as test case): </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 mainstream media, etc.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>(First iteration operated November 2007 to January 2008, tracking 300-400 blogs) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Early Results <ul><li>Proof-of-concept study of selected lead blogs (11/2007-1/2008): </li></ul><ul><li>The Other Cheek (political gossip) vs. Club Troppo (policy analysis) </li></ul>100% 91.6% 86.6% 77.5% 76.8% 73.7% 58.5% 50.5% 47.1% 46.3% 43.3% 41.4% 39.9% 34.6% 34.6% 34.2% 32.6% 31.9% 31.9% 29.6% 263 241 228 204 202 194 154 133 124 122 114 109 105 91 91 90 86 84 84 78 national government years economic policy people Howard election Labor world countries politics problem public issue work Rudd change tax price 100% 100% 98.6% 71.7% 60% 57.2% 52.4% 44.8% 42.7% 42.7% 38.6% 38.6% 34.4% 33.7% 33.1% 28.9% 28.9% 26.2% 26.2% 26.2% 145 145 143 104 87 83 76 65 62 62 56 56 50 49 48 42 42 38 38 38 Labor Liberal OC political election government campaign people patriot seat Rudd candidate state Greens public federal left work Game Age Relative Count Absolute Count Concept Relative Count Absolute Count Concept Club Troppo The Other Cheek
  8. 8. The Other Cheek
  9. 9. Club Troppo
  10. 10. Further Information <ul><li>Continued coverage of the project: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gatewatching.org (Wilson, Saunders, Bruns) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discussion paper: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Network and Concept Maps for the Blogosphere ” (Bruns, Kirchhoff, Nicolai, Wilson, Saunders, Highfield, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Full ISEA paper: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Locating the Australian Blogosphere: Towards a New Research Methodology ” (Bruns, Wilson, Saunders, Highfield, Kirchhoff, Nicolai, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Detailed discussion of The Other Cheek , Club Troppo , and Larvatus Prodeo : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Concept Maps for Selected Australian Political Blogs, Part I (Bruns 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concept Maps for Selected Australian Political Blogs, Part II (Bruns 2008) </li></ul></ul>