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Social Media Network Mapping

Visualising Cultural Patterns

Singapore.
The ISEA 2008 conference is pretty much over now - the last event broadly connected with it is a talk by new media theorist Lev Manovich in the beautiful Lasalle arts space. With a title of "Cultural Analytics", I wouldn't be so surprised if this was going to be pretty close to what my colleagues at QUT have in mind when they talk about cultural science...

His aim here is to extrapolate from current to future cultural trends, and he notes that such futurism is traditionally very difficult. Part of his approach, therefore, is to develop new projects with his students which may have the potential to set new trends themselves. Overall, he says, we'll see a very significant new cultural development that builds on data mining and data visualisation technologies.

Transaction, Rematerialisation, and Visualisation in Digital Art

Singapore.
Next up here at ISEA 2008 is Daniela Alina Plewe. Her interest is in the connection of art and business - and she asks about the potential for doing art around business. Interactive media themselves are often used in an economic context, of course, where interactions are also financial transactions. There is a good potential for developing interactive/transactive media works, then; art mash-ups could resemble online businesses.

This could build on the tradition of art about business, of business around art, of art as investment. But what is important here is the dimension of interaction and transaction. In interaction, there is an exchange of meaning, in transaction, there is an exchange of value; and this may take place in the artwork itself, or around it.

Network Politics, Political Networks

Singapore.
The first full day at ISEA 2008 starts with a number of parallel paper sessions - and the first paper in one of these sessions is mine (that is, the paper I've co-authored with Jason Wilson, Barry Saunders, Tim Highfield, Lars Kirchhoff, and Thomas Nicolai). I've posted the slides below, and will try to record the audio as well the audio is up now, too.

The next paper is by Atteqa Malik, who begins with a political rock video from Pakistan that has now been parodied by the Pakistani lawyers' movement (replacing rock musicians with lawyers, etc.). That movement, and other online and offline protests, is in response to the takeover of mainstream Pakistani media during the Musharraf regime, of course - indeed, there has been an explosion of media channels in Pakistan in recent years. One further catalyst for such developments was the 2005 earthquake, which created a strong response from younger generations.

Public Speech, Public Spaces, Public Spheres

Brisbane.
The next session I'm attending at the CCi conference is also (broadly) on citizen journalism. Andrew Kenyon from the University of Melbourne is the first speaker, and his focus is especially on the legal perspective on journalism as public speech, building on interviews with editors, journalists, and other media workers. Legal frameworks enable in particular the search for truth, the maintenance of democracy, and (especially in the US) a critique of government, but public speech is often positioned as fulfilling a more generic function (such as consensus formation). Public speech often critiques, and limited protections for public speech is often seen as having a chilling effect on the diversity of public speech that is possible.

Concept Maps for Selected Australian Political Blogs, Part II

(Crossposted from Gatewatching.)

In this second part, we'll follow on from our discussion of key themes in The Other Cheek, Larvatus Prodeo, and Club Troppo by looking at the concept maps which Leximancer produces. But first, a recap of the background for this study: I've already posted about our work in developing a new methodology for mapping link and concept networks in the Australian blogosphere. For a first test run of this project, we archived posts in some 300-400 Australian political blogs between the start of November 2007 (the last month of the federal election campaign) and the end of January 2008. We distinguish between different functional components of blogs and blog pages, and what I'm focussing on here are the blog posts themselves, which are of course the major discursive element of any blog - as part of our approach, we've separated these posts from all other content on the blog (headers, footers, blogrolls, sidebars, comments sections, etc.).

What I've done here in the first place is to run the concept mapping software Leximancer over the content gathered from a selection of key Australian blogs. In the first part of this post, I simply listed the key terms for each blog in order of frequency (giving a quick indication of what they're frequently talking about), which produced some notable differences between the three blogs. My reading of this is that Club Troppo focusses much more strongly on policy analysis over political wonkery and insider gossip; for The Other Cheek, the balance is reversed, while Larvatus Prodeo sits somewhere in the middle.

In this second part, I'll map these blogs' key terms in relation to one another - terms which frequently co-occur in close proximity to one another in the text are located closer to one another on the map than terms which don't, in other words. The resulting maps provide further support to the observation that the blogs have different points of focus in their day-to-day coverage of politics - and by plotting all frequently-used terms on the map, the exact nature of these topical clusters becomes a little clearer, too.

Concept Maps for Selected Australian Political Blogs, Part I

(Cross-posted from Gatewatching.)

In a previous post, I mentioned our work in developing a new methodology for mapping link and concept networks in the Australian blogosphere. For a first test run of this project, we archived posts in some 300-400 Australian political blogs between the start of November 2007 (the last month of the federal election campaign) and the end of January 2008, and we've now begun an exploratory analysis of this corpus of data.

As noted in our discussion paper for this project, the first step in this analysis is to distinguish between different functional components of blogs and blog pages (something that does not necessarily happen in comparable studies, by the way). So, what I'm focussing on here are the blog posts themselves, which are of course the major discursive element of any blog - as part of our approach, we've separated these posts from all other content on the blog (headers, footers, blogrolls, sidebars, comments sections, etc.). While I'll mainly discuss content analysis here, this is especially important also in the context of link analysis, of course, where blogroll, comment, and other links skew the data if we want to focus on examining the discursive network between blog posts.

So, building on this corpus of blog post data, here are some preliminary observations. What I've done here in the first place is to run the concept mapping software Leximancer over the content gathered from a selection of key Australian blogs, to both fine-tune that process and see if any discernible differences between individual blogs emerge. I'll present the results in two ways: one simply lists the key terms for each blog in order of frequency (giving a quick indication of what they're frequently talking about), and the second maps these key terms in relation to one another - terms which frequently co-occur in close proximity to one another in the text are located closer to one another than terms which don't, in other words. (I'll post these maps later, in the second part of this post.)

A Bunch of New Citizen Journalism Publications

The last months have been enormously productive (and, at times, exhausting!) for me. In addition to my own book Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage, I've also contributed to a number of other publications - and quite a few of them are now finally available in print and/or online.

cover of

In a previous post, I've already mentioned Megan Boler's edited collection Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times. I've now received my copy of the book, and very nice it looks, too - a great collection of essays from many key authors and researchers in the field, combined with Megan's interviews with journalists and media activists including Robert McChesney and Hassan Ibrahim of Al Jazeera. My own contribution explores the post-tactical opportunities for citizen media, and draws parallels to the long-term establisment of other once tactical movements; a pre-print version of the chapter is online here. The book is available from Amazon and MIT Press.

Towards a Better Methodology for Mapping and Measuring Blog Interaction

I'm crossposting this from Gatewatching.org, where a discussion about the influence of Australian political bloggers on wider political processes that was kicked off by Jason Wilson's recent posts on Tim Blair's move to the Daily Telegraph and Christian Kerr's summary dismissal of Ozblogistan's political combattants in The Australian has prompted me to finally post up some more information about the research we're currently engaged in at QUT, in collaboration with our excellent colleagues at the University St. Gallen in Switzerland. I'm also attaching a detailed discussion paper which documents our methodological model in some more detail - we'd love to get further feedback on this, from fellow researchers and interested bloggers alike. (For a more condensed version of this material, please see our paper for the ISEA 2008 conference in Singapore.)

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