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Grave Matters

Here comes the snow...Well, the inevitable has happened, and it's begun to snow in Leeds. So far, there's been little more than a light flurry, which I understand is less than what they've had further down in England's south - but we'll see how things go as we approach the evening. At any rate, the weather has put a dampener on any idea of further exploring the Leeds University and the city itself - I think I might wait until it turns a little more pedestrian-friendly again.

University of Leeds graveyard I did manage to see a little more of the place over the last few days, though, and discovered that the university seems to have been built (or gradually expanded) around an old graveyard, which now serves as a park at the centre of the campus. Which does feel a little, well, morbid to me, but I guess could also be understood as a timely reminder to students and staff to seize the day and get on with their work...

I've now acted on this impulse myself, and begun work on a paper which my PhD student Debra Adams and I have proposed as a chapter for a new collection on blogging. As I've mentioned here previously, we're interested in using the IssueCrawler tool to map the Australian political blogosphere, and so I've spent the day investigating potential strategies for generating useful and accurate maps - initially related to specific current issues, but beyond this also for the Australian blogosphere overall. As a test case, I've chosen blog-based debate about the issue of long-time Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks, which has resurfaced in the Australian mediasphere once again in recent days following Prime Minister John Howard's most likely fulsome promise that he's now going to press the U.S. for a speedy trial after all.

You can follow the progress of my crawls here, here, and here. All other elements being equal, they're distinguished by their starting points - the first takes the 100 most recent posts mentioning David Hicks in blogs which Technorati says have 'a lot of authority' as its starting point; the second contains posts from blogs which have at least 'a little', and the third at least 'some authority' (but unfortunately I switched around the labels for the latter two as I queued them in IssueCrawler - d'oh). What I'm keen to find out in the first instance is whether these different seeds make any significant difference to the final result, and if so, which of them looks like the most useful.

And no, I'm not going to attempt any clever wordplays linking graveyards and Guantanamo - the continued and systematic violation of human rights for which that place has become a symbol is far too serious for this.

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