transliteracies: the politics of online reading 06.18.2005, 2:33 PM
posted by dan visel
Warren Sack presented two interesting diagrams yesterday at Transliteracies. The first was a map of how political conversations happen in newsgroups:
The work is that of John Kelly, Danyel Fisher, and Marc Smith; it shows conversations on the newsgroup alt.politics.bush. Blue dots are left-leaning participants in the newsgroup; red dots are right-leaning participants. Lines between dots show a conversation. Here, it's clear that a conversation is predominantly taking place across the political lines: people are arguing with each other.
The second is a map of how conversations (represented by links) happen on political blogs in the United States:
This is the work of Lada Adamic and Natalie Glance and it shows connections between political blogs. Blue dots are leftist blogs; red dots are rightist blogs. One notes here that the left-leaning blogs and right-leaning blogs tend to link to themselves, not across the political divide. People are reinforcing their own beliefs.
Obviously, it's a stretch to claim that American politics became more polarized and civics died a death because internet conversations moved from newsgroups to blogs. But it's clear from these diagrams that the way in which different forms of online reading take place (and the communities that are formed by this online reading) has political ramifications of which we need to be conscious.
noah on June 19, 2005 8:20 AM:
This is quite interesting - though one thing this leaves out is the economy of links. In-links increase a site's Google rank. Aware of this, many bloggers don't use links when citing the arguments of those with which they strongly disagree. This is part of the reason that people have argued for typed links - bloggers would link across the political spectrum much more if they could tag their link "disagree."
And, of course, blog comment fields (like this one) are also a place of heated political disagreement that I assume aren't visualized here.
Nevertheless, thought-provoking stuff.