Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mapping the on-line controversy

Since I first posted ANZ, IBM & freedom of speech I have been adding postscript updates on this storm. While I have included some of my own views, I think that the links provided are sufficient to allow anybody interested to follow through the controversy in this small corner of the Australian blogosphere.

Back in October 2010 I reported on attempts to map the Australian blogosphere - Mapping the Australian blogosphere. There I said in part:

Accepting these qualifications, I found the type of political clustering that you might expect, broadly reflecting party and left/right affiliations. For example, on the left Larvatus Prodeo, John Quiggin and Club Troppo are major, somewhat overlapping, nodes, each with their own if linked clusters. On the other side of the fence, Catallaxy has a similar but smaller cluster. 

The Crikey group of blogs forms another node/cluster in its own right. 

One of the things that leads to heavy clustering of all the political blogs into a mass of hard to read colour is, I think, the presence of cross-quoting. This groups the left, left-centre blogs most closely, but also pulls the right, right-centre blogs somewhat together towards the left blogs. I am sure that this can be analysed further from the data by taking individual nodes and then looking at the relationships between them.

I also noted that while Neil Whitfield and this blog appeared on the map, we appeared as outriders placed relatively closely together. This placement reflects our distance from the big blogs, as well our habit of quoting each other.

It would be interesting to see the good folk at Mapping Online Publics map this controversy, because I think that it shows something of the same pattern. The observations that follow are just that, observations on apparent patterns.

  1. With the exception of this blog and a small number of others, participating blogs were dominated by those affected either by loss of advertising or those with a special interest (Christian Lobby, Andrew Bolt are examples). This is hardly unexpected. Further, the flow on to the mainstream media - and there was a flow on -  came from the overlap between bloggers and MSM writers.
  2. The overall conversation - posts and comments - was dominated by three blogs, Lavartus Prodeo, Club Troppo and Skepticslawyers. For some strange reason, Skepticslawyers was not included in the blog mapping exercise I referred to. Cattalaxy became involved, but at a lower level of intensity. If you mapped all this, I think that you would a similar pattern to that shown in the blog mapping referred to earlier.
  3. Excluding Andrew Bolt as a special case, there was a great deal of cross-commenting between the dominating blogs. The same people appeared and re-appeared.
  4. This blog remained an outrider, loosely connected but still separate. Measured by traffic, my post on the topic attracted visits, although generally other posts remained on top. However, references to my posts on the bigger blogs did draw traffic - Larvatus Prodeo 21 visits in the week, Club Troppo 8 visits, Catallaxy Files 6 visits.
  5. I attracted comments from three people - marcellous, kvd and Legal Eagle - a small number compared to the big blogs. All three commented on Skepticslawyers as well. LE is part of the Skepticslawyers combine, but began commenting here prior to that. Marcellous was an early member of what I call the village, the loose group of blogs and commenters that emerged especially around Neil. KVD is my most regular commenter.

I am not making any profound comments here. As I said, I am just interested in patterns.

Perhaps more importantly, all this has forced me to review the posts I have written on blogging over the last few years. Expect more on this later!        


Anonymous said...

Sparta beckons.


Jim Belshaw said...

KVD, While youngest (Clare) is, I've never been a supporter of Sparta! In a flight of whimsy, I am now wondering which Greek city state or person to attach to which blog.

Anonymous said...


A very good dinner conversation! Thank goodness it's too late - but I'd nominate LP for Sparta immediately. Particularly in view of the co-ordinated "I am Sparta" campaign.

If lockstep was a dance, they'd be ballroom queens.


Jim Belshaw said...

Okay, so LP is sparta because they march in lock-step and have very firm views. Now how do we classify Club Troppo?

Anonymous said...

Well before Trop let me say I would classify your blog as Mykenae, and skeptic lawyer as probably Delphi.

Troppo is hard because I visit infrequently. Maybe Thebes?

kvd (who will accept all corrections with great interest)

Legal Eagle said...

I'm trying to remember how I came across your blog, Jim. I think it was via the indefatigable Neil, and that's how I came across Marcellous too. It was definitely before I joined up with Skepticlawyer - I was still on my own at Legal Soapbox

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi LE. It was long before SL. In those days the Blonde Canadian was still writing. It could well have been via Neil, although I wrote a fair bit of stuff on law. M came into the scene via Neil. KVD, I think, came to me and then to you.

Jim Belshaw said...

No, not sure about Mykenae, but like the idea of SL as Delphi. Lets lock that one in. I think of Catallaxy as more Roman.

Anonymous said...

I just came for the sensible commentary, and have stuck around for pretty much the same boring reason. Sorry Jim.

Then sort of followed LE back home like a lost dog I guess.


Anonymous said...

Jim so long as you are changing the rules or the geography I must insist that JohnQ be assigned King Canute

I have always seen him as up to his knees in unwanted repercussions, in need of a good dowse of reality. But if his related by family I of course retract. Otherwise not.

What's wrong with Agamemnon?


Jim Belshaw said...

I don't know that that's a matter for apology. KVD. I, too, have been following LE around!

Jim Belshaw said...

Perhaps, KVD. But remember that King Canute wanted to show his courtiers that no one could control the tides.

Anonymous said...

Yes of course you are correct Jim. Back to Greece, but also off to bed. Thanks!


Anonymous said...


A word or two of explanation:

1) "Sparta beckons" was simply my way of moving on from blog insanity, to see where your next Greek adventure chapter would lead.

2) Although it was late at night I was very interested in your "blogs as city states" meme, so responded.

3) You rejected Mykenae - as I now understand having read further, particularly on Agamemnon - but my choice was based on the following rough overview:

Founded by the hero Perseus and becoming favorite residence of Pelops and his descendants, it became the most important city of Greece at the times of the king Agamemnon.
Master seafarers, they traded in the whole eastern Mediterranean sea, until the 12th century.
In 1375 BC, they invaded Crete and conquered the Minoans, who had influenced them in the art, from as early as the 16th century BC. The Mykenaean people build cyclopean structures, but at the same time they created the finest works of art.
These were the heroic and adventurous people of the Iliad, the romantic poet warriors, the purest and best of Hellenes.
I have always been particularly fond of the last sentence.

4) You were right to query my comment re Canute, however I have always thought him to be an example of someone completely skilled in stating the obvious.

5) And all last night was in gentle humour, as is the above further meander.

Best regards

Jim Belshaw said...

Okay, KVD. I thought that Mykenae was far to important for me. I do love the idea of being equated to:

"These were the heroic and adventurous people of the Iliad, the romantic poet warriors, the purest and best of Hellenes."

My modesty will not permit.

It is time to return to the Greek adventure - Sunday.

I like the idea of Canute as someone with the capacity for stating the obvious. Does this mean that his courtiers are ...?

I decided that discretion should stop me filling in the rest!