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Club Bloggery: Super Rehearsal for November

We've been meaning to slow down the Club Bloggery series a little while we get busy with other research, but have found this difficult especially at a time when so many new topics present themselves. So, the latest instalment in the series went online about a week ago already, and I'm only now getting around to posting a link to it here - this time, we look at how the U.S. blogosphere is shaping up in its coverage of the current presidential primaries, and the actual election later this year.

Along with the previous one, this latest piece generated some, um, interesting responses from self-styled professional irritators Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt, and their respective cheersquads; predictably, where they ascended beyond mere ad hominems the focus of their harrumphing appeared to centre around the fact that it's possible for research into blogging to be funded - in part - by taxpayer money. (Perhaps the logic here is "hey, if even I can be a blogger this blogging business really can't be worth researching"? How refreshingly humble.) Such comments are as common in the debating arsenal of the irrational right as they are stupidly reductive, of course - if the "Surely that money should be given to research for a cure for AIDS or cancer?" argument is taken to its logical conclusion, then 'surely' nothing save two or three major projects should receive all the funding available?

Another telling if unwanted insight into the mindset of the Australian hard-right commentariat: looks like Blair picks his targets according to the links showing up in his site's referrer log (only when one of our Club Bloggery articles actually linked to him did he take notice), and Bolt just follows what Blair writes. A few lazy ad hominem attacks, cut and paste some ready-made phrases about 'left-wing academics', and voila, we have another blog post to, er, maintain the rage amongst the faithful. Whoopee. And people wonder why the conservative side of Australian politics is intellectually bankrupt?

Update: Oh, and in fairness, in case any of the Blairites are indeed interested in evidence for our claim that the left of the Australian blogosphere is better developed than the right, here's a study I conducted about a year ago. Follow-up studies focussing on a number of different cases have shown much the same outcome - greater clustering and more cluster members on the left than on the right. (Raw data from these studies is available at Issuecrawler, if anyone would like to do their own analysis.)

Anyway, here's our article, also cross-posted at Gatewatching as usual, with some choice comments also attached to the one before. Please don't feed the trolls.

Club Bloggery: Super Rehearsal for November

By Jason Wilson, Axel Bruns and Barry Saunders

It's almost a cliché now to assert that the US blogosphere is an election-cycle ahead of what we have in Australia.

We're not so sure it's that simple, mostly because it seems that online, independent media are on a slightly different developmental track on this side of the Pacific. But it's certainly true that the American online mediasphere is flexing some fairly impressive muscles in the presidential primaries.

This year's election season will be one to watch, and it might just be the one in which online coverage - from bloggers and the MSM - outstrips television and the press in depth and importance.

It should be said at the start that the US political blogosphere is a lot more polarised, various and influential than Australia's.


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