Term Paper Wrap Up

Well, now that I’ve emailed the presentation in and printed out the paper (still looking for a powerful stapler), here’s a slide and an excerpt from the exciting and ornery beast now offically known as:

    Interpersonal Communication and the Formation of Public Opinion in the Internet Age:
    An Analysis of the Movement and Influence of Opinion in Newspapers and Web Logs

Yes, that is a mouthful, thanks for asking. I call it “Term Paper” most of the time to save my breath.

long tail of the blogosphere
Yes, it’s obviously ripped off re-mixed from Chris Anderson’s original article on The Long Tail from Wired Magazine. I do cite Chris’ article in my term paper when I get to the juicy bits at the end about the disintermediation and democratization of human communication. I also mention Dave Sifry, Steve Gillmor, Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays, Paul Lazarsfeld, and really quite a few others (I think I ended up with 30 references in all).

The jist of the paper? Let’s take a look at theories of influence, authority, and social networking as it relates to how opinion is disseminated in different ways by different media: specifically, how opinion about the Iraqi legislative elections in January of 2005 was shared/pushed around/linked to by two different opinion leaders: Kofi Annan and Powerline.

Odd couple, yes.

This isn’t really a publishable paper yet, what with all the actual “research” that sort of thing “requires,” but I hear there’s a future in this sot of thing…you get the general idea in the following little taste:

“In contrast to these fears of group polarization, technological optimists anticipate the “global village�? which McLuhan famously predicted (1964). Frances Cairncross wrote in The Death of Distance about “Communities of Practice�? which she predicted would form “among people performing the same job or speaking the same language in different parts of the world�? (Cairncross, 1997/2005). This is the idea of horizontal bonds. Horizontal communication allows citizens who were formerly only consumers of mass media to create media for themselves, interacting with each other as they publish their own ideas and opinions. Geographical borders are no longer a limiting factor to the networking of individuals with similar ideas, professions, or interests.

Although users who exclusively visit the sites of like-minded individuals might be participating in an echo chamber, never before have they had so wide a range of choices of which media to consume. This is the horizontal nature of the Web; the vertical style of a mass medium like a newspaper is a top-down model, where a lecture is the dominant form of communication: the sender of the message speaks, and the receivers listen from a distance. On the Web, ideas can travel horizontally, user to user, edge to center, creating a previously unavailable mobility of ideas: the dominant model of communication online has become the conversation.”***

Yeah, still needs work, but I pretty much hit a wall the 29,000th time I had to look up some tiny obscure little conservative blog preaching about how Glenn Reynolds was ruling the world now.

School is rough.

***this is the sort of stuff that REALLY needs to get attributed to me if it’s reprinted anywhere

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