Much has been written about the potential impact of the blogosphere on future patterns of global, national, and local public communication; blogs and other forms of distributed, networked, non-mass mediated discussion and engagement may fundamentally reconfigure the conventional model of the public sphere as it was formulated by Habermas and others during the second half of the past century. However, for all the anticipation of a networked society to come, there is as yet little more than speculation about the shape of the future mediasphere, and the impact of blogs is often still documented by anecdotal evidence rather than thorough study.
An increasing number of researchers have begun to examine the internal structures of the blogosphere, however, both in terms of its demographics (see e.g. Rainie, 2005) and in terms of the topical fields and genres now emerging (see e.g. Bruns & Jacobs, eds., 2006). Additionally, the increasingly distinct blogging practices within specific national, ethnic, and subcultural communities are attracting growing attention (see e.g. Russell & Echchaibi, 2008), and the trajectories of bloggers through the blogosphere over time are beginning to be traced (Kirchhoff, Bruns, & Nicolai, 2007).
Major national and international events provide an important opportunity to study uses of blogs and document their impact on domestic and global publics. The role of blogs in covering the events of 9/11, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, or the 7 July 2005 bombings in London has been well-noted; news and political blogs have also become increasingly instrumental in local and national election campaigns. This paper examines the role of blogs in the Australian federal election campaign in late 2007, and in the political aftermath of the election. Using a mixture of quantitative analysis, data visualisation, and qualitative evaluation which builds on emerging blog network mapping tools (see Bruns, 2007), it will locate the key nodes in the Australian political blogosphere, examine their role as opinion leaders for the networked public in Australia, and investigate the interrelationship between the political blogosphere and the wider Australian mediasphere.
Bruns, Axel. (2007) "Methodologies for Mapping the Political Blogosphere: An Exploration Using the IssueCrawler Research Tool." First Monday 12.5 (May). http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue12_5/bruns/index.html
Bruns, Axel, and Joanne Jacobs, eds. (2006) Uses of Blogs. New York: Peter Lang.
Kirchhoff, Lars, Axel Bruns, and Thomas Nicolai. (2007) "Investigating the Impact of the Blogosphere: Using PageRank to Determine the Distribution of Attention." Paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers Conference, Vancouver, 18-20 Oct. 2007.
Rainie, Lee. (2005) "The State of Blogging." Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2 Jan. 2005. http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_blogging_data.pdf
Russell, Adrienne, and Nabil Echchaibi. (2008, forthcoming) International Blogging: Reconceptualizing the Role of Blogs in an International Context. New York: Peter Lang.