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February 04, 2009

Expanding the Base

As reported on TechPresident, yesterday’s Fem 2.0 conference included a presentation on mapping the Feminist Blogosphere along with a discussion that touched on “how to reach out and get more traction on issues on other sites not necessarily considered ‘feminist’ by their statistics.”

It’s great to see online activists moving beyond mobilizing the base to focus on expanding it.

The conference reminded us that exploring the relationships between bloggers provides ample data to expand the reach of, and better target, issue activism.

The Morningside Analytics map below, created for Green Media Toolshed, captures bloggers discussing issues related to women's health and the environment (yes, we can target networks around specific issue).  As this example demonstrates, bloggers who cluster around feminism are not just embedded within the progressive/liberal blogosphere, but also share strong links with other important groups such as parent bloggers, of which there are different types.  They all care about the relevant issues, but will respond to very different language and message frames.  It's important to know who is who!


The data behind this map can be used not just to identify and target specific groups, but to develop effective viral messages and identify of the best messengers to carry them.

We can also look at viral messages to spread specific ideas, and analyze the use of language among targeted clusters to improve message effectiveness, and boost speed and reach.


Notes on Methodology

The process begins with analyzing the relationships (linking behavior) between bloggers in the entire blogosphere. The map below is of the English language blogosphere, and uses a physics model algorithm to cluster blogs (dots).  The size of the dot is the number of other blogs which link to it, and blogs are positioned in the 'network neighborhoods' formed by dense connections among bloggers who care about similar things.

We then identify "Attentive Clusters," represented by different colors, which are groups of blogs that (statistically speaking) link to similar things.


To assist organizations looking for new ways to spread their messages, we filter the global map to find bloggers discussing specific issues.  This targeted filtering uses a variety of semantic criteria, from specific ranked terms/phrases to links to web sites on the issue being explored.  The issue map in the post above was created for as part of research on women’s health and the environment.  Research on other issues of concern to feminists would position feminist bloggers in relation to others concerned with the same issue, allowing a better focus on the relationships that matter most to an issue campaign.


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