Azman, Norhidayah, Millard, David E. and Weal, Mark J.
Issues in Measuring Power and Influence in the Blogosphere.
At Web Science Conference 2010, Raleigh, NC, USA,
26 - 27 Apr 2010.
Power and influence in the blogosphere can be elusive in nature yet they still play a perceived role in determining future events. Cases like the resignation of Senator Trent Lott and the Dan Rather scandal have been quoted as evidence of the power of blogs, highlighting the potential role of blogs as a new medium for instigating change. However, supporting evidence of power in the blogosphere is often anecdotal. Over the past century, power definitions have been continuously debated amongst political scientists. Based on their theories, this paper defines power as the ability to produce effects among others when making decisions. The blogosphere's emergence echoes the phenomena of 17th century pamphleteering, where the invention of the printing press had facilitated publishing beyond institutional control such as churches and the monarchy. In Web Science, power in the blogosphere fits in as one of the issues that emerge due to the macro nature of the blogosphere. Previous work on identifying power and influence has resulted in papers positioning blogs within a hierarchy, based on metrics such as links, comments and phrases. These metrics are constrained by what can be observed. Moreover, quantifying power would involve finding a tractable, concrete link between blog activity and an action. External influences such as traditional media also make it difficult to correctly analyze blogs-to-action correlations. Nonetheless, the use of data propagation could be suitable to measure power. One potential methodology is to correlate blog trends to a tractable action like an e-petition.
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