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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 02:16 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Australia's blogosphere

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26 March 2012 11:05

Blogger Jim Belshaw responds to Sam Roggeveen's post, 'Is there an Australian blogosphere?':

I think it is true to say that the Australian blogosphere is fragmented. It's also true to say that Australian bloggers don't cross-link as much as they might or indeed should. But it's not quite as clear-cut as this.

Back in 2010, Dr Axel Bruns released some initial mapping results on the Australian blogosphere. I dealt with it in a post at the time. If we look at political blogs, you find a clustering effect around main nodes. You also find outriders – the independents – who also link. The patterns change with time, but they are there.

One of the difficulties in the clustering is that, not unexpectedly, the major nodes attract people of common views. A second problem is that there is sometimes very little cross-linking on the major nodes. Yet that said, there are underlying currents that are not always apparent.

The very partisan blogs, including those attached to some media outlets, tend to attract only the like-minded. However, there is a broader and different stream that, while sometimes still partisan, actually focuses on issues. Most of the bloggers in this group either know or know of each other. I call this the village. There are links and interlinks that are not always apparent on the surface.

I was trying to think of the best way of illustrating this. Perhaps one way is to say that I have some ten bloggers who are Facebook friends, another overlapping but different group who follow me on Twitter. Then there are those who email me or come through in comments. I am not an A-list blogger, although I have reasonable traffic on my main blogs. My point is that there are a whole series of interactions that have a cumulative impact over time.

There are particular issues that attract major bogging attention. However, a lot of the real work is simply the on-going discussion. Most mainstream bloggers don't just blog. They reach out through a variety of channels. We do influence each other, but we also influence the broader debate. The effects here cannot be easily measured, but they seem to be significant over time.

I guess that's my real point in this comment. Don’t focus on the headline, the grand impact on public discourse. Focus instead on the cumulative effect.

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