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Blogs and Blogging

Methods for Tracking Viral Video Dissemination across the U.S. Blogosphere

The final speaker in this session at AoIR 2011 is Shawn Walker, whose interest is in the viral diffusion of information. He focusses here on the viral diffusion of videos during the last U.S. presidential election. Such diffusion addresses the dynamics of viral information flows online; videos sometimes managed to generate some millions of views in a very short time. Shawn’s project compared the diffusion of a number of videos across the blogosphere over the course of a year and a half.

How is this done methodologically? How can relevant data be gathered and analysed? Shawn generated data for some 125 videos across 10,000 blogs; this involves substantial data scraping and capturing, as well as (hand-)coding and analysing data. Extracting data on videos from YouTube is far from easy, and it’s impossible to predict which videos will go viral; instead, the project used a tool called Viral Video Chart to determine the top viral election videos, as well as exploring YouTube manually to identify different versions and mashups of the same video. Shawn also used paid access to viewing data provided by TubeMogul – which was not always comprehensive or entirely accurate, however.

Blogging Journalists, Journalistic Blogging

The next speaker at Future of Journalism is Lex Boon, whose focus is on the changing context for journalism in this transitional phase. In particular, blogs have been driving this change, and as a result, of course, journalists themselves have also started their own blogs.

Lex examined media blogs (in the professional context of journalism, published on the Website of news organisations), and interviewed the journalist-bloggers behind them – from a broad range of news beats. Mostly those journalists essentially fell into blogging: their editors raised the need to start blogging, and they started their blogs as experiments, without much pre-planning. This also means that they’re not taking their approach to blogging too seriously at this point.

Networks of Political Blogging in Greece

The final speaker in this CeDEM 2011 session is Kostas Zafiropoulos, whose interest is in political blogging in Greece. He describes Greek blogs as a self-organising community, and begins by showing the well-known image from Adamic & Glance’s study of the US political blogosphere around the 2004 election (which, analysing the patterns of interlinking between blogs, showed a highly polarised environment at the time).

Kostas’s project undertook a similar study for Greece. They began by using Technorati to find Greek political blogs (with “some” authority, according to Technorati’s measures), and tagged them according to their political orientation. During May 2009, they identified some 101 blogs through this process.

Uses of Political Blogging in the 2010 Swedish Election

The next speaker at CeDEM 2011 is Jakob Svensson, who shifts our attention towards the individual in political participation. He does this against the background of the 2010 Swedish elections, which for the first time used social media in a significant way. Jakob focussed on Nina Larsson, a politician of the conservative Liberal’s Party, who used two blogs during her campaign.

Jakob notes the different forms of rationalities (deliberative, but especially also expressive) which are on display in such uses; beyond this, there is also a more instrumental use of social media to influence election outcomes, of course (at worst, this simply refers to naked political spin). All of this needs to be considered in a wider theoretical context of digital late modernity and networked individualism, of course. The process of individualisation opens up other spheres for participation, too – life politics, for example. Blogs and other social networking sites are sometimes seen as saviours for this, but there are strong critiques of such perspectives, too.

Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Echtzeitfeedback: Neue Herausforderungen für den Journalismus (University of Vienna 2011)

Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Echtzeitfeedback: Neue Herausforderungen für den Journalismus

Axel Bruns

  • 9 May 2011 – Guest lecture at the University of Vienna

Wie Blogger und andere unabhängige Kommentatoren im Netz den herkömmlichen Journalismus kritisieren, korrigieren, und anderweitig herausfordern, ist bereits seit Jahren bekannt, aber noch längst nicht von allen Journalisten verinnerlicht worden; noch immer flammen die Feindseligkeiten zwischen dem Medienestablishment und der neuen Generation von Webseiten gelegentlich wieder auf. Das alte Gatekeeping-Monopol der Massenmedien wird dabei durch die neue Praxis des Gatewatching infragegestellt: von einzelnen Bloggern und Communities von Kommentatoren, die zwar selbst nicht viel Neues berichten, dabei aber die Nachrichten und sonstige Informationen offizieller Quellen neu zusammenstellen und bewerten und so einen wichtigen Dienst leisten. Und dies geschieht nun auch noch immer schneller, geradezu in Echtzeit: über neueste soziale Netzwerke, die in Minutenschnelle Nachrichten weiterleiten, kommentieren, hinterfragen, oder widerlegen können, und über zusätzliche Plattformen, die schnelle und effektive Ad-Hoc-Zusammenarbeit möglich machen. Wenn hunderte Freiwilliger innerhalb weniger Tage einen deutschen Minister des schweren Plagiats überführen können, wenn die Welt von Erdbeben und Tsunamis zuerst per Twitter erfährt: wie kommt der Journalismus da noch mit?

Some More Presentations to Finish the Year

As 2010 draws to a close, its perhaps appropriate that my last couple of conference presentations for the year take a somewhat retrospective nature, summarising and reflecting on the 2010 Australian federal election, with a particular view on what we’ve learned about the state of Australian journalism in general and the role of Twitter in election coverage and debate in particular. I’ll present both those papers at different conferences in Sydney this Friday (26 November):

Slides for both those presentations are below, and I’ll try and add audio later both with audio.

Thinking through Approaches to Mapping Blog Networks

The final speaker in our social media mapping session at AoIR 2010 is my excellent PhD student Tim Highfield, whose focus is on comparing the French and Australian political blogospheres. Here, he’s examining blog network mapping, which enables an investigation of links, affiliations, friendships, clusters, references, and oppositions between blogs; this can also easily lead to simply pretty visualisations which ultimately don’t tell us much, however.

Strengths are that larger and longer-term datasets can be created, and dominant groups can be identified over time – however, many studies still focus on all links on a page, rather than only on the discursive links in blog posts and/or the static affiliations in blogrolls. for example. Additionally, it would also be used to distinguish supportive and oppositional links, and to weight repeated links more strongly than less frequent interlinkage.

Linkage Patterns in the German Political Web

The next speaker in our social media mapping panel at AoIR 2010 is Christian Nuernbergk, whose interest is in tracking and mapping political interaction in online social networks. This is driven by the ‘concentration of attention’ debate: people like Yochai Benkler suggest that new online platforms provide a greater space for people to engage in discussion and conversation, while someone like Matthew Hindman claims that the Web exhibits a ‘rich get richer’ phenomenon where audiences end up concentrated around a handful of sites.

So, in Germany, which Websites benefit the most from the emerging network; how centralised is the link structure? This study worked with a dataset from Linkfluence Germany, which had already mapped the German political Web for the last election and now repeated its Web crawl to determine the overall link network. Various attributes of network actors were automatically generated, and reviewed by researchers at the University of Münster.


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