Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

New Study: Left More Likely to Make Blogging a Group Affair

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, April 28 2010

Credit: "A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right"

Research that finds that liberal and political blogs are equally polarized might be missing out on an important, even mitigating, factor: how much those blogs encourage participation, are open to hearing from a range of in-house voices, and engage in collaborative actions like online fundraising. That's a gist of a new study from researchers Yochai Benkler, Aaron Shaw and Victoria Stodden that was put out by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society this morning. The Nation's Ari Melber did a deep dive on the study, including an interview with Benkler on what a "sociological" perspective on blog research adds to our understanding.

The report looked at snapshot of the "top 155 political blogs" on the right, center, and left take over a two-week period back in 2008. "Overall, 42 percent of the conservative blogs in the survey were run by one author," writes Melber, "while 20 percent of the liberal sites were solo shows." With blogs like Daily Kos, MyDD, and Crooks and Liars on the left side of the ledger, liberal blogs were more likely to allow user diaries and bump content from diaries up the front page than blogs on the right were, with sites like Instapundit and Michelle Malkin among the right-leaning blogs under consideration.

Melber notes that the study's authors consider a number of different explanations for their "Tale of Two Blogospheres," including demographics and "psychological typology," to explain what they found to be the sociology of the political blog world. I'll humbly offer what might be called an anthropological cause: learned behavior and modeling. Many early liberal blogs were, for whatever reason, group blogs. And when authors and diarists spread out across the rest of the web, they took the expectation of participation -- and the software that makes it possible (such as Scoop, SoapBlox, and Drupal) -- with them.

The study is here, Melber's write-up is here, and Melber's interview with Benkler is here.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Overreaching

Why the FCC balked at the Comcast-TimeWarner deal; Sheryl Sandberg wants Hillary Clinton to lean into the White House; the UK's Democracy Club brings a lot more information to election season; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Ownership

"Tell us more about your bog"; the shrinking role of public participation on campaign websites; "Aaron's Law" has been reintroduced in Congress; is the Comcast-TimeWarner merger on its last legs?; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Bush League

Presidential candidates hiding behind Super PACs; what this means for American democracy; demos at the White House; a demand for Facebook to be more open about news in the newsfeed; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Glass Half Full

A new Pew study on open government data in the US; the FOIA exemption ruffling transparency advocates' feathers; social media bot farms; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Zucked Up

Mark Zuckerberg responds to criticism of "zero rating" Facebook access in India; turning TVs into computers; how Facebook is changing the way UK users see the upcoming General Election; BuzzFeed's split priorities; a new website for "right-of-center women"; and much, much more. GO

More