Social Networks

Exploring the political blogosphere: a tool for memeorandum

memeorandum with color annotation

One of my favorite sites for seeing what’s hot in the political blogosphere is memeorandum. Fortunately, it’s a favorite haunt of Andy Baio, too. Baio is a writer and tech entrepreneur in Portland, OR. He’s fashioned a cool toolthat illustrates the political leanings of the blogs featured in discussion on memeorandum.

Research (Glance and Adamic) in the early days of blogging suggested very little cross-linking. In other words, liberal blogs rarely linked to conservative ones (and vice versa). This current visualization reflects linking behavior in the context of featured stories on memeorandum. In other words, what stories are the bloggers talking about?

The brighter the color, the more frequently they only cover stories by their counterparts…

Seeing each site’s potential bias provides the context for understanding how news is spread. Right-leaning blogs are eager to point out new evidence that George Zimmerman was hurt the day he shot Trayvon Martin, but left-leaning blogs aren’t covering that story. Likewise, only left-leaning news sites appear to be covering the news of Ted Nugent’s threatening remarks to the president, but conservative blogs aren’t. This visualization also makes it easy to spot outliers, the sources that are breaking away from their past behavior to link to something beyond their usual circle.

Some of the color choices may raise a few eyebrows; CNN, for example, shows up as pale red. Others will cause nary a blink of the eye, such as HotAir (red) and ThinkProgress (blue). Others, like Shakesville and Ezra Klein, have no highlight.

The tool is open-source, free and available for Firefox (requires GreaseMonkey) and Chrome. Baio launched the project in 2008.

Gabe Rivera is the founder of memeorandum, which is part of his stable of aggregators: Ballbug (baseball news), mediagazer (media news), Techmeme (tech news), WeSmirch (celebrity news).

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By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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