Two Blogospheres, Dated Research
Aaron Shaw and Yochai Benkler have an article in the current issue of American Behavioral Scientist titled "A Tale of Two Blogospheres : Discursive Practices on the Left and Right."
Aaron Shaw and Yochai Benkler have an article in the current issue of American Behavioral Scientist titled “A Tale of Two Blogospheres : Discursive Practices on the Left and Right.” The abstract informs us,
In this article, the authors compare the practices of discursive production among top U.S. political blogs on the left and right during summer 2008. An examination of the top 155 political blogs reveals significant cross-ideological variations along several dimensions. Notably, the authors find evidence of an association between ideological affiliation and the technologies, institutions, and practices of participation. Blogs on the left adopt different, and more participatory, technical platforms, comprise significantly fewer sole-authored sites, include user blogs, maintain more fluid boundaries between secondary and primary content, include longer narrative and discussion posts, and (among the top half of the blogs in the sample) more often use blogs as platforms for mobilization. The findings suggest that the attenuation of the news producer-consumer dichotomy is more pronounced on the left wing of the political blogosphere than on the right. The practices of the left are more consistent with the prediction that the networked public sphere offers new pathways for discursive participation by a wider array of individuals, whereas the practices of the right suggest that a small group of elites may retain more exclusive agenda-setting authority online. The cross-ideological divergence in the findings illustrates that the Internet can be adopted equally to undermine or to replicate the traditional distinction between the production and consumption of political information. The authors conclude that these findings have significant implications for the study of prosumption and for the mechanisms by which the networked public sphere may or may not alter democratic participation relative to the mass mediated public sphere.
The full article is available in PDF format but the findings are consistent with most formal and informal studies of the blogosphere over the years.
What’s odd about this particular study, though, is that the data is four years old. Presumably, the authors tried and failed to get this published in a plethora of sources before finally getting accepted in this journal, which probably has a backlog. Regardless, blogs are a relatively new phenomenon and lopping off the most recent four years of it greatly diminishes the value of the findings.
Additionally, I had to laugh at the source selections for the coding:
Even in 2008, TTLB and Technorati were viewed as jokes. The proprietor of the former had long moved on to other projects, tired of his ranking system being gamed and of dealing with the enormous technical problems of surveying such a vast field. I don’t know what happened to Technorati but bloggers long ago stopped paying any attention to it.
via Tyler Cowen