Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kewl: Memeorandum Helps Visualize Political Spin

Well, this appears to be a useful tool.

...the universe of political blogs is largely split in two, with conservative and liberal blogs rarely covering the same stories or linking to the same sites. But it can be very challenging to tell their political leanings at a glance, especially with names like “Balloon Juice,” “Weasel Zippers,” or “The Volokh Conspiracy.”

So, four years ago, I launched a project with Delicious/Tasty Labs founder Joshua Schachter to visualize the linking biases of various political blogs on Memeorandum by looking at their past behavior.

Using singular value decomposition, the linear algebra at the heart of your Netflix recommendations, we reduced the entire matrix of blogger-to-article relationships to a single dimension. Imagine a single line grouping like-minded blogs together based on the diversity of the stories they cover, with hardcore left- and right-leaning blogs on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Using those precalculated values, we load the data from Google Spreadsheets and color the links on Memeorandum, based on where they fall on the spectrum. The brighter the color, the more frequently they only cover stories by their counterparts.

This simple visualization leads to some interesting insights. Compare these two articles, which were trending on Memeorandum at this writing:

Seeing each site’s potential bias provides the context for understanding how news is spread. Right-leaning blogs are eager to point out new evidence that George Zimmerman was hurt the day he shot Trayvon Martin, but left-leaning blogs aren’t covering that story. Likewise, only left-leaning news sites appear to be covering the news of Ted Nugent’s threatening remarks to the president, but conservative blogs aren’t. This visualization also makes it easy to spot outliers, the sources that are breaking away from their past behavior to link to something beyond their usual circle.

This browser add-on is free and open source. We’ve updated the data sources for the first time since 2008, and Memeorandum Colors now works natively in Chrome, in addition to Firefox....

Directions to install the add-on are here, near the bottom of the page.

The only quibble: I define any article that's red as American. Anything blue means Marxist.

And since I'm a political centrist, I'm assuming any links to my blog will be utterly neutral in color. Like beige.


Anonymous said...

most of these examples fall into the Marxist category, figures....

Unknown said...

How did Shakesville not receive the Blue Badge of Commiehood in that sample?

William Teach said...

Well, it's obvious that Wired is a misogynist organization working for the patriarchy, attempting to keep women down and making sure they are never empowered. Or something like that. My ability to type Feminist breaks down after a few words ;)

Anonymous said...

Memeorandum is a very good tool to visualize the digital battlefield between the Right and the Left.

It maps out the battle lines if you can become familiar with the Blogs of both sides.