Mapping the Australian Networked Public Sphere

Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Tim Highfield, Lars Kirchhoff, Thomas Nicolai
2010 Social science computer review  
This paper reports on a research program that has developed new methodologies for mapping the Australian blogosphere and tracking how information is disseminated across it. We improve on conventional Web crawling methodologies in a number of significant ways: First, we track blogging activity as it occurs, by scraping new blog posts when such posts are announced through RSS feeds. Second, we utilise custom-made tools that distinguish between the different types of content and thus allow us to
more » ... alyse only the salient discursive content provided by bloggers. Finally, we are able to examine these better-quality data by using both link network mapping and textual analysis tools, to produce both cumulative longer-term maps of interlinkages and themes, and specific shorter-term snapshots of current activity which indicate current clusters of heavy interlinkage and highlight their key themes. In this paper, we discuss findings from a year-long observation of the Australian political blogosphere, suggesting that Australian political bloggers consistently address current affairs, but interpret them differently from mainstream news outlets. The paper also discusses the next stage of the project, which extends this approach to an examination of other social networks used by Australians, including Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. This adaptation of our methodology moves away from narrow models of political communication, and towards an investigation of everyday and popular communication, providing a more inclusive and detailed picture of the Australian networked public sphere. Nicolai, Bruns, & Highfield, 2009). We address a number of the shortcomings in conventional Web crawling methodologies, outline the research approaches we have taken, and discuss findings from a year-long observation of the Australian political blogosphere. The paper then looks ahead to the next stage of the research program, a $400,000 ARC Discovery project running from 2010-2012 which extends this approach to an examination of other social networks used by Australians, including Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. This adaptation of our methodology moves away from narrow models of political
doi:10.1177/0894439310382507 fatcat:ipcnui24xzcc3gvjhk5wtbuu3i