Paper- Ideology-based Trends in US Political Blogs

A new paper compares the practices of discursive production and participation among top U.S. political blogs on the left, right, and center during the summer of 2008 and, based on qualitative coding of the top 155, finds evidence of an association between ideological affiliation and the technologies, institutions, and practices of participation across political blogs. Sites on the left adopt more participatory technical platforms; are comprised of significantly fewer sole-authored sites; include user blogs; maintain more fluid boundaries between secondary and primary content; include longer narrative and discussion posts; and (among the top half of the blogs in the paper's sample) more often use blogs as platforms for mobilization as well as discursive production.

The variations observed between the left and right wings of the U.S. political blogosphere provide insights into how varied patterns of technological adoption and use within a single society may produce distinct effects on democracy and the public sphere. The study also suggests that the prevailing techniques of domain-based link analysis used to study the political blogosphere to date may have fundamental limitations.
Read the full abstract and download the paper- A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and the Right, by Yochai Benkler and Aaron Shawvisit. 

Hot off the Press: New Book on Legal Empowerment by IDLO

The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) has produced a new book on Legal Empowerment, which is edited by my colleague Stephen Golub, consists of 15 essays by practitioners and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but hope to summarize and review the book soon. The book, Legal Empowerment; Practitioners' Perspectives can be accessed on IDLO's website here, for free (Thanks, IDLO!). 

Official Announcement follows:

04/03/2010 - SWITZERLAND

At a launch event in Geneva, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) released a new book examining issues in the emerging development field of legal empowerment. Legal Empowerment: Practitioners' Perspectives, edited by Stephen Golub, contributes empirical knowledge to the debate on how disadvantaged populations will best secure their economic and social rights. It is the second publication in an IDLO book series entitled Lessons Learned: Narrative Accounts of Legal Reform in Developing and Transition Countries."This book offers diverse, practical perspectives on legal empowerment strategies, activities and research in order to deepen the knowledge base in the field," said Thomas McInerney, IDLO’s Director of Research, Policy & Strategic Initiatives. "By bridging the knowledge gap between development practitioners and scholars, we can foster productive discourse and maximize the potential for law to improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged populations whom IDLO and other development organizations support."

12 Future Trends for Development- Do you agree?

The Society for International Development (SID), which I am a member of,  has a survey of "12 provocative predictions for the new decade made by several agenda-setters and opinion shapers." The survey is to determine development professionals' level of buy in on certain predicted future trends that will impact development practice. I thought it was highly interesting, and am reproducing the questions below (where we were asked to rank from 1-5 from strongly disagree to strongly agree). SID has also requested a broader sample of responses, so if you would like to take this survey, please access it here:

(Not all the 12 questions are related to technology- in fact most are not- but for the purposes of this blog, I have reproduced the ICT questions first, as follows:)

1. "People power in development will move into a new age. 2010 will mark the fifth birthday of YouTube. In 2004 YouTube did not exist, now it gets 1 billion views a day. In 2003 China and India had 100 million internet users. Today that number is 350 million. In most African countries the number of Internet users has tripled or quadrupled in the past five years. In 2004, two in ten households in the developing world had a mobile phone subscription while today it is five in ten. These trends will accelerate and we will find ever more uses for them in development... Will this new technology foster a profound new wave of participation in development and change? I think so".

2. "Searching the Internet just by thinking. Internet search as we know it is just one decade old; by 2020 it will have evolved far beyond its current bounds. Content will be a mix of text, speech, still and video images, histories of interactions with colleagues, friends, information sources and their automated proxies, and tracks of sensor readings from Global Positioning System devices, medical devices and other embedded sensors in our environment. The majority of search queries will be spoken, not typed, and an experimental minority will be through direct monitoring of brain signals. Users will decide how much of their lives they want to share with search engines, and in what ways".