Mapping the political blogosphere

by Henry Farrell on June 23, 2008

via “Ethan Zuckerman”:, a really nice visualization (with clickable information) of the political blogosphere “here”:



roger 06.23.08 at 4:42 pm

Why is this a good map of the political blogosphere?

I’ve seen these kinds of things for years, and it seems to me that they really suck as maps. There’s no respect for detail, the scales seem picked at random, and I don’t know what the directions even mean. A geographic map should help me to go from place A to place B – this map seems as unhelpful in that respect as Pollack’s Blue Poles painting. The abstract expressionists didn’t call what they were doing maps, and neither should these wild graph-ers who come up with these illustrations. I would entitle this one: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.


Ginger Yellow 06.23.08 at 5:04 pm

It’s not designed for navigation (not all maps are geographic). It’s designed to show how blogs relate to one another – who links to whom, who is most linked to, where a blog fits in the “ecosystem” etc. It’s very good at that.


Walt 06.23.08 at 5:06 pm

Isn’t that really a picture of V’Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture?


Russell Arben Fox 06.23.08 at 6:09 pm

I can’t find me, so obviously it’s defective.


richard 06.23.08 at 7:03 pm

I’m not crazy about this infographic:

1) the colour = community key strikes me as subjective/limiting: what constitutes “independence?” How privative are these categories in practice?
2) left-right position in the graphic carries a strong implication, especially with the yellow category being placed between the blue and red, for all that the “map key” asserts that it’s meaningless.
3) what is the penumbra, or ‘halo’ in the background supposed to connote? (I can say it doesn’t denote anything, because it’s not mentioned in the “map key” at all)
4) I’m not sure what “infopit” means.
5) Apparently The tools and the contents we provide should satisfy your private interest for politics. Hm. Is that a normative statement about the tools, or about my private interest? Exactly why “private?”
6) The more links a node receives from other nodes shown on the map, the bigger it appears on the map.
OK, so it’s a measure of how often the site receives links. But:
Note that the link count is based solely upon links coming from nodes on the map. Links coming from websites located outside of the map are excluded.
The map shows only the 270 or so most frequently-linked sites from a set of over 2000 sites. No data are given on how those 2000 sites were selected – so there’s a lot of room for researcher’s bias, here, compounded by the sort of procedural idiocy to which maps and colograms are prone. See Mark Monmonnier: How to Lie with Maps.
Based on this approach, we can determine the level of authority attributed to a given site within these communities.
This statement strikes me as deeply unsafe.

Still, it’s pretty.


monkey.dave 06.23.08 at 7:18 pm

Ha ha… is “conservative”, but is “liberal”. I guess they must be measure pre- and post-Abu Ghraib.


Matt Weiner 06.23.08 at 7:42 pm

What’s the difference between purple (Roll Call and Factchuck) and yellow?


John Mondragon 06.23.08 at 8:19 pm

There are only two independents!

Argh…this is what’s wrong with everything.


Matt Weiner 06.23.08 at 8:51 pm

Ah, those are the only two “independent” as opposed to “infopit” sites.

For people interested in the display of information, they could have put the informative sidebar stuff (the pie chart and key to communities) above the search gizmos, so you wouldn’t have to scroll down for them.


herr doktor bimler 06.23.08 at 11:23 pm

I had a vague plan of using multidimensional scaling to map the bloggosphere, where the index of similarity between two sites would be “number of people who comment on both”.

Of course there would be a problem with people who use one nym when commenting here, and another nym to contribute to Sadly,No (for instance).


Ravin F. 06.24.08 at 12:00 am

Of course there would be a problem with people who use one nym when commenting here, and another nym to contribute to Sadly, No (for instance).

Oh, that seldom happens.


thompsaj 06.24.08 at 12:14 am

I think it’s most interesting when compared to the similar graph made of Amazon bestselling current events titles. I can’t remember where I saw it, but it was distinguished by almost no contact between left and right (the ones connected to both sides where all by Lou Dobbs.) In that light, it would seem the blogs are at least more engaged with each other than books. And anecdotally, it’s really easy to find CT linking to Redstate, if only to mock it.


derek 06.25.08 at 3:42 pm

Matt, it’s got a pie chart and a key!?

It’s even worse than I thought.

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