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Week 19: Reading Notes

Course Code
Jennifer Kayahara

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Week 19: The Internet & Political Participation
(Farell & Drenzer: The Power and Politics of Blogs)
Two key factors:
oThe unequal distribution of readers across weblogs
oThe relatively high readership of blogs among journalists and other
political elites
The unequal distribution of readership, combined with internal norms and
linking practices allows interesting news and opinions to rise to the top
of the blogosphere
othus to the attention of elite actors, whose understanding of politics
may be changed by frames adopted from the blogosphere.
Blogs attract a small fraction of attention compared to the mainstream
oonly 4% of online Americans reported going to blogs for information
and opinions
o62% of online Americans had no idea what a blog is
Bloggers do not appear to be very powerful
oThere is no central organization to the blogosphere.
oThere is no ideological consensus among its participants.
oBlogging as an activity is almost a part-time enterprise undertaken
for love rather than money
However, blogs play an increasingly important role as a forum of public
owith knock-on consequences for the media, politics, and policy

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This article concentrates on two interrelated aspects of the blogosphere
1.the unequal distribution of readers across the array of weblogs
2.the ever-increasing interactions between blogs and mainstream
media outlets
Even though, there are millions of bloggers, the median blogger has almost
no political influence as measured by hyperlinks
oThis is because the unequal distribution of readers, with a few
bloggers commanding most of the attention (the skewed distribution
of weblogs)
oThats why, a few elite blogs can operate as both an information
aggregator and as a summary statistic for the blogsphere
A key reason why blogs are important is thatjournalists and opinion
leaders are readers of blogs
opolitical commentators relies on blogs as sources of interpretive
frames for political developments
blogs possess the comparative advantage of speedy publication
The networked structure of the blogosphere
the most important difference between blogs and more traditional media is
that blogs are networked phenomena that rely on hyperlinks
Links between blogs take two forms
oblogroll: a list of blogs that the owner of the blogger frequently
read or especially admire, with clickable links
oSecond, bloggers may write specic posts that contain hyperlinks to
other blogs
Links and page views are the currency of the blogosphere

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oMany bloggers desire a wide readership
the most reliable way to gain trafc [readership] is through a
link on another weblog
when one blog links to another, the readers of the former blog
are more likely to read the latter after having clicked on a
If they like what they read, they may even become regular
readers of the second blog
Thus, bloggers are keenly interested in discovering other
blogs that link to them
That blogs are linked together in a network provides much of their specic
oblogs interact with each other continuously, linking back and forth,
disseminating interesting stories, arguments and points of view
blogs and the hyperlinks between them are amenable to network analysis
othe individual blogs may be treated as the nodes of the network
and the links connecting them as ties
Different distributions of ties among nodes will be associated with
different forms and levels of political effectiveness
othe best-connected nodes will have a much greater number of ties
than the less well connected
onodes that are rich in ties are likely to become even richer over time
oWhile rich sites are still likely to get richer, poor sites too stand
some chance of getting rich, if they are lucky.
New bloggers are more likely to create links to well established bloggers
who already have many inbound links, than to other unknowns
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