The Berkman Center’s Internet & Democracy project releases new study
In June, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society announced a major research release from its Internet & Democracy project: “Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent.” The study, presented at the United States Institute of Peace on June 17, is part of a series of studies by the Internet & Democracy project investigating the Internet’s influence on democracy.
Using a unique methodology that blends link analysis, term frequency analysis and human coding of individual blogs, the project investigates the online discussions taking place across the Middle East and North Africa. A team led by Project Director Bruce Etling, with Morningside Analytics founder John Kelly, Berkman Research Director Robert Faris and HLS Professor John Palfrey ’01, identified a base network of approximately 35,000 active blogs, created a network map of the 6,000 most connected blogs, and with a group of Arabic speakers hand coded 4,000 blogs.
The goal for the study was to produce a baseline assessment of the networked public sphere in the Arab Middle East, and its relationship to a range of emergent issues. Whereas the previous study of the Persian blogosphere revealed a network organized primarily around political ideologies and topical issues, such as reformist and conservative politics, religion and poetry, the Arabic blogosphere is organized primarily around countries, with personal life and local issues being the most frequently addressed issues. Most bloggers write mainly personal, diary-style observations, but when discussing political issues, they tend to focus on domestic subjects. Bloggers link to sites like YouTube and Wikipedia more than other sources of news. The overall picture is one of a country-based groupings of blogs focused on domestic issues.
Read the Internet & Democracy's project's report "Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent."