This paper reports on a research program that has developed new methodologies for mapping the Australian political blogosphere (Bruns et al. 2009, 2008a/b; Kirchhoff et al. 2009). We improve on conventional Web crawling methodologies in a number of significant ways: First, we track blogging activity as it occurs, by scraping new blog posts when such posts are announced through RSS feeds, rather than by crawling existing content in the blogosphere after the fact. Second, we utilise custom-made tools that distinguish between the different types of content and thus allow us to analyse only the salient discursive content provided by bloggers, without contaminating our data with static links and ancillary material. Finally, we are able to examine these better-quality data by using both link network mapping and textual analysis tools, to produce both cumulative longer-term maps of interlinkages and themes across the blogosphere, and specific shorter-term snapshots of current activity which indicate clusters of heavy interlinkage and highlight key themes and topics being discussed within these clusters in the wider network.
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Kirchhoff, L., et al. (2009) Monitoring the Australian blogosphere through the 2007 Australian federal election. ANZCA 2009, Brisbane, July 8, 2009.