Exploring partisanship in Web search queries

Recently our two papers on partisanship in Web search queries were published:

E. Borra & I. Weber (2012). Political insights: exploring partisanship in Web search queries. First Monday, 17(7).

We developed Political Insights, an online searchable database of politically cha rged queries, which allows you to obtain topical insights into partisan concern. In this paper we demonstrate how you can discover such political queries and how to lay bare which issues are most salient to political audiences. We employ anonymized search engine queries resulting in a click on U.S. political blogs to calculate the probability that a query will land on blogs of a particular leaning. We are thus able to ‘charge’ queries politically and to group them along opposing partisan lines. Finally, by comparing the zip codes of users submitting these queries with election results, we find that the leaning of blogs people read correlates well with their likely voting behavior.

Tool online at: http://politicalinsights.sandbox.yahoo.com (This tool uses static data surrounding the 2010 US midterm election. The tool accompanying our second paper uses current data and shows weekly search trends.)

I. Weber, V.R.K. Garimella & E.K. Borra (2012). Mining Web Query Logs to Analyze Political Issues. In Proceedings of the WebSci12.

We present a novel approach to using anonymized web search query logs to analyze and visualize political issues. Our starting point is a list of politically annotated blogs (left vs. right). We use this list to assign a numerical political leaning to queries leading to clicks on these blogs. Furthermore, we map queries to Wikipedia articles and to fact-checked statements from politifact.com, as well as applying sentiment analysis to search results. With this rich, multi-faceted data set we obtain novel graphical visualizations of issues and discover connections between the different variables. Our findings include (i) an interest in “the other side” where queries about Democrat politicians have a right leaning and vice versa, (ii) evidence that “lies are catchy” and that queries pertaining to false statements are more likely to attract large volumes, and (iii) the observation that the more right-leaning a query it is, the more negative sentiments can be found in its search results.

Tool online at: http://politicalsearchtrends.sandbox.yahoo.com

Earlier I also blogged about the methods for exploring partisan search queries.


Methods for exploring partisan search queries

Last spring, together with Ingmar Weber from Yahoo! research labs in Barcelona, I investigated the web search queries resulting in a click on US political blogs. As these blogs are often clearly partisan, we were able to determine which of these queries pre-dominantly lead to blogs of a particular political leaning and thus whether there are queries with a clear political partisanship. While the full paper about that research is under review, in this post I shortly explain the basic methodology of our tool.

<update>Our paper Political Insights: Exploring partisanship in Web search queries was published by First Monday.</update>



Political Insights with Search Engine Queries

What do people on the political right search for? And which queries concerning “tea party” are most left-wing? Now Yahoo! has a demo where you can find out: http://politicalinsights.sandbox.yahoo.com/.

This application is the first public presentation of the work I’ve been doing together with Ingmar Weber at the Yahoo! labs in Barcelona. The current demo employs static data surrounding last year’s US midterm elections and displays actual (raw) queries. More to follow …

Some telling examples are:

To find out more about have a look at the about page.


The Embeddedness of Society in the Internet

This post is the first of a five part series on ‘using the web for documentaries‘, addressing the following points: the embeddedness of society in the internet, the political in the web, the politics of engines, the politics of tools, and the web as an anticipatory medium.

To start with, let us have a look at this AP’s picture (click for higher resolution). Obama in Berlin:

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Using the Web for Documentaries

I was invited to give a lecture on the use of the web for documentaries in the framework of Mediamatic’s AnyMedia Documentary workshop, which forms part of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam’s doclab program. Following you can find my presentation of Saturday 23 November in written form.

Let me present myself first: I am Erik Borra, researcher and lead programmer at Govcom.org – a foundation dedicated to creating and hosting political web tools, and the Digital Methods Initiative – the New Media PhD program of the University of Amsterdam. I have a MSc in Artificial Intelligence and am preparing a MA in New Media Studies.

In my presentation I have addressed five points, which I have written out in five posts: the embeddedness of society in the internet, the political in the web, the politics of engines, the politics of tools, and the web as an anticipatory medium.

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De slag om de pensioenen in de Verenigde Staten

Uit de nieuwste WTO.Zip. nr 53

Een van de toonaangevende progressieve columnisten in de VS, New
York Times’ Paul Krugman, gooide in februari de knuppel in het
hoenderhok door te schrijven hoe er een geoliede conservatieve
smeercampagne gelanceerd was tegen de Amerikaanse coalitie van
ouderenorganisaties AARP. Deze verzet zich namelijk tegen plannen
om het pensioenstelsel drastisch te hervormen en te privatiseren.
Krugman baseerde zich wederom deels op het onthullende nieuwste
boek van Thomas Frank, “What’s The Matter with Kansas” [1]. In dat
boek onderzoekt Frank hoe de bevolking van Kansas de laatste tijd
steevast politici steunt die beleid maken dat vierkant tegen hun
belangen ingaat. PR-operaties en smeercampagnes blijkt een van de
voornaamste geheime wapens van rechts te zijn.

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google with a judgement

it’s about time we come with a free software variant!!! We are working on it :-)

‘Google With Judgment’

By David Ignatius

Tuesday, October 5, 2004; Page A25

Imagine for a moment that you could study the ebb and flow of public discussion about American politics as if it were a computer graphic. What would this database of “aggregated thought” tell you about the presidential campaign debates?

It happens that a former Republican campaign strategist named Charles M. McLean has created just such a database. His consulting company, Denver Research Group Inc., monitors more than 7,000 sources on a constant, real-time basis — giving him a window on what he estimates is about 80 percent of all original political content around the world. Using a combination of computer algorithms and human analysis, he sifts this mass of information to discern the “tonalities” that shape global events. This approach has identified key political trends one to two weeks before those changes appear in traditional poll numbers, he says.


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Orwell Rolls in his Grave – A Film by Robert Kane Pappas (DVD) — A BuzzFlash Premium

A very nice movie which shows how close we are to the state of affairs in George Orwell‘s book 1984.

“Orwell Rolls in his Grave” proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the oft-used BuzzFlash claim that we have entered into an Orwellian parallel universe, with the arrival of the radical right wing Republican Party in full power, is true and accurate.
This is a must see, a wake-up call to America that we have already entered an Orwellian world when history, context, and language are redefined daily by the government, as the media broadcasts the new version of the truth without question. Every news cycle starts with a clean slate for the White House “Ministry of Truth” to write on.

This movie is good! Much better than Michael Moore’s fahrenheit 9/11, also in it’s critic on the bush administration. Must see!

to download this movie via torrent click this link: http://www.torrentreactor.net/torrents/download_15662

Orwell Rolls in his Grave – A Film by Robert Kane Pappas: DVD description
imdb link

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Alternatives for a fairer world

Many people have heard me complaining about the unfair world we live in – sometimes it seems that we are only brainwashed and ruled by egoistic selfish pigs on governmental positions and in big companies. Most people have asked me: “then what should we do? You can keep on nagging but nothing will change! We as individuals can do nothing.” To all these people i’d like to suggest the following essays and books. There is no one alternative to capitalism, nor communism. The alternative comes from humanity and= creativity. Enjoy reading and living towards a better world ;-)

* “We the Media – Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People”, by Dan Gillmor. The main focus of “We the Media” is the ongoing revolution in journalism, but it is much broader than that. It is about media and communication in general. It is a report in mid-2004 on many of the predictions that Marshall McLuhan made in the 1960s and 70s about how technology will change the way we communicate for good and ill.
jaco.cc: “We the Media is Gillmor’s heroic effort to bridge the tech-obsessed polyannas like me and the skeptical grownups whose hardened attitutudes won’t admit of this stuff. He’s done us all a service by writing it for us.”
You can read the book online.

* “Extreme democracy” is a political philosophy of the information era that puts people in charge of the entire political process. It suggests a deliberative process that places total confidence in the people, opening the policy-making process to many centers of power through deeply networked coalitions that can be organized around local, national and international issues.
Extreme democracy is not direct democracy, which assumes all people must be involved in every decision in order for the process to be just and democratic. Direct democracy is inefficient, regardless of the tools available to voters, because it creates as many, if not more, opportunities for obstruction of social decisions as a representative democracy. Rather, we assume that every debate one feels is important will be open to participation; that governance is not the realm of specialists and that activism is a critical popular element in making a just society.
A collection of essays you can read online

* Free Can Mean Big Money: The Open Source Economy

the money that is made and the jobs that are provided by the licensed software industry are an essential pillar of the economy, and any challenge to the status quo would have catastrophic effects. This misconception is actually rather easy to debunk, but its related to a more serious notion that merits serious discussion: the idea that replacing the now-dominant intellectual property regime with one that favors, or even enforces, sharing rather than hoarding is a threat to the worlds economic well-being.

A wiki with these kind of texts is in planning.

tnx jacoplane

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They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.

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