Preposterous Universe

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A post you shouldn't miss (and likely have already seen) from Kevin Drum. This is a map of links between political blogs, taken from this study. Blue for liberals, red for conservatives.

There's been a lot of discussion about the fact that conservatives tend to link to each other more than liberals do; I have no idea why. But the obvious disconnect between the hemispheres is more obvious as well as more interesting: liberal blogs tend to link to each other, as do conservative blogs, and not so much across the divide. (The bloggy version of a phenomenon that has already been noticed in book-buying habits.) And it's a shame, much as I am guilty of it as anyone else.

Not that it's an original thought, but I believe this fragmentation is going to have a larger and larger effect on how people view the world. Instead of being forced to get our news through bland, centralized media, Americans are going to be increasingly dependent on sources that are strongly filtered through some ideological lens or another. It will become increasingly impossible for people with different politics to even have sensible conversations, as their impression of the facts will be as different as their impression of what the important issues are. I had a brief glimpse of this when I mentioned to someone of a different political persuasion (you know, the persuasion that considers Fox News to be a reliable source) that I was traveling to Colorado. The immediate response was, "you're not meeting with that lunatic Ward Churchill, are you?" I worry that moments like this will only grow more common.

Of course, there's also this:
The study also found (unsurprisingly) that blogs are primarily a medium based on criticism, not support [...] Donald Rumsfeld, for example, is cited almost exclusively by liberal bloggers, while Michael Moore is ignored by the left but widely cited by the right.
Right. Keeping in mind, of course, that Michael Moore is a guy who makes movies, while Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense. (At which point I realize that this post embodies everything it decries.)

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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