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Political discourse on social networking sites: Sentiment, in-group/out-group orientation and rationality

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Abstract

The news feeds of two U.S. politicians' Facebook sites were examined across 22 months leading up to an election 6 in order to explore changes in social-network-mediated public political discourse over time. Changes over time were observed 7 in who was being addressed and in the affective valence of comments. A complex flow of attention between in-group and 8 out-group concerns was observed with in-group comments dominant both in early and late phases. Also, positive comments 9 decreased and negative comments increased over time. These phenomena, dubbed "reflection-to-selection" and "converging 10 sentiment", were refined to explain the observed nonlinearities. The flow of rational versus affective comments in politicians' 11 Facebook data across time was also explored. Comments reflecting cognition were more prevalent at all times than comments 12 reflecting affect, but their distribution also varied in complex ways over time. Finally, the concept of "potential public sphere" 13 in contrast to "realized public sphere" in virtual spaces is introduced.

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... Thirty percent of respondents said that their friends post occasionally about politics and 25% said that they have become more involved politically as the result of information in their social networking feeds. Other recent work has explored the emergence of the public sphere in online spaces devoted to political discussion like political blogs [1,13,41], political discussion forums [31], political videos posted on YouTube [24,25], and political and media accounts on SNSs [17,33,42,44]. ...
... Whereas some individuals were receiving campaign updates from politicians' pages, they often commented on how the information that was made public did not help them with respect to the deliberation process as they could only receive "trivial updates". People also felt that politicians' pages were homogenous [33]. ...
... With respect to the public spaces devoted to the discussion of politics, like politician Facebook pages or the public discussions that take place in the comments sections of YouTube and online media like CNN, the majority of our informants described the discussions in these public spaces as being highly polarized and filled with messages of flaming or support [33]. As such, many did not frequent these interaction spaces because they did not facilitate healthy, constructive interaction as there existed a misalignment in people's values. ...
Conference Paper
This paper reports on a qualitative study of social media use for political deliberation by 21 U.S. citizens. In observing people's interactions in the "sprawling public sphere" across multiple social media tools in both political and non-political spaces, we found that social media supported the interactional dimensions of deliberative democracy—the interaction with media and the interaction between people. People used multiple tools through which they: were serendipitously exposed to diverse political information, constructed diverse information feeds, disseminated diverse information, and engaged in respectful and reasoned political discussions with diverse audiences. When people's civic agency was inhibited when using a tool, they often adopted, or switched to, alternative media that could afford what they were trying to achieve. Contrary to the polarization perspective, we find that people were purposefully seeking diverse information and discussants. Some individuals altered their views as a result of the interactions they were having in the online public sphere.
... Concerning political views, research has also shown that the way people talk about politics, the language they use, and the topics they focus on affect their evaluation and perception about politics [28,54,68,79,115,116,147,151]. For example, swear words and vulgarity reduces the perceived persuasiveness of political messages [25]. ...
... This in turn can influence certain keywords to be mentioned more frequently compared to others, leading to opinion reinforcement [100,101,128] and thereby causing commenters to take more extreme positions [49,62,100,101,152]. The consistent appearance of important keywords in online discussion, in fact affects selective exposure [49,91,152], underpinning information that occurs most frequently as the dominant perspective [91,152] while marginalizing perspectives that are less frequently mentioned or appear as less important [115,116]. This can potentially reduce diversity of perspectives in political discourse, a key element that allows society to find common ground on important issues through democratic conversation [37,115]. ...
... The consistent appearance of important keywords in online discussion, in fact affects selective exposure [49,91,152], underpinning information that occurs most frequently as the dominant perspective [91,152] while marginalizing perspectives that are less frequently mentioned or appear as less important [115,116]. This can potentially reduce diversity of perspectives in political discourse, a key element that allows society to find common ground on important issues through democratic conversation [37,115]. ...
Article
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Linguistic style and affect shape how users perceive and assess political content on social media. Using linguistic methods to compare political discourse on far-left, mainstream and alt-right news articles covering the #MeToo movement, we reveal rhetorical similarities and differences in commenting behavior across the political spectrum. We employed natural language processing techniques and qualitative methods on a corpus of approximately 30,000 Facebook comments from three politically distinct news publishers. Our findings show that commenting behavior reflects how social movements are framed and understood within a particular political orientation. Surprisingly, these data reveal that the structural patterns of discourse among commenters from the two alternative news sites are similar in terms of their relationship to those from the mainstream - exhibiting polarization, generalization, and othering of perspectives in political conversation. These data have implications for understanding the possibility for civil discourse in online venues and the role of commenting behavior in polarizing media sources in undermining such discourse.
... A positive interpretation of freedom of speech, in turn, is that it enables the emergence of " public spheres " envisioned by (Habermas, 1989). Interned-based " public spheres " enable civic activities and political participation – i.e. " citizens can gather together virtually, irrespective of geographic location, and engage in information exchange and rational discussion " (Robertson et al., 2013). The significance of the change entailed with the emergence of " public spheres " comes concrete in countries which have prohibited or hampered the use of al. (2012), for example, have suggested that the continuance use of popular SNSs can be explained by critical mass. ...
... This concern is not groundless as it has been shown in several studies that SNSs are used for emotional purposes – expressing and sharing the goods and bads of life. Ren et al. (2007), Williams & Gurati (2008), Kwon & Wen (2010), Robertson et al. (2013), for example, have found that participating in SNSs is motivated, among others, by exposing new ideas, building identity, maintaining interpersonal connectivity, strengthening ties with like-minded friends, debating actual issues, gaining social enhancement and deriving entertainment. Emotional bias in the use of SNSs creates challenge for public service innovation. ...
... SNSs offer opportunities for discussion of shared interest in a way which cannot be controlled by the organisation: " everything that can be exposed will be exposed – for all intents and purposes " (Fournier & Avery, 2011). In some cases, instead of diversity of ideas, the result may be the intensification of 'homophily' (McPherson et al., 2001) and " an echo-chamber of like-minded friends " (Robertson et al., 2013). On the other hand, instead of wisdom of crowds (cf. ...
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The paper argues that social networking sites SNS can be exploited as smart platforms for fostering public service innovation. Exploring and discussing SNSs in public service innovation through the complexity lens, the paper shows that SNSs enable new opportunities and pose new threats, depending on the perspective. The paper speaks for open and democratising innovation, which accentuates that not all ideas and knowledge critical to innovation reside within an organisation, but are dispersed in the organisation's external environment.
... While prosocial online sites are often directed externally with the intention of benefiting others, scholarly work has primarily focused on examining incivility on sites in which behavior is more self-interested, such as news and political websites and message boards (e.g. Coe et al., 2014;Papacharissi, 2004;Robertson et al., 2013). News consumption is often civic, but not inherently prosocial-when it comes to sociopolitical topics, many citizens are primarily motivated by the desire to gather support for or defend one's beliefs and worldviews (Edgerly et al., 2014). ...
... This incivility has, naturally, made its way into online spaces as well. Social media, for example, may promote negative messages (Robertson et al., 2013), and the Internet has been noted as a great place to air grievances (Lee and Cude, 2012). Even among the engaged and politically inclined online user, incivility is commonplace . ...
Article
Scholars are increasingly concerned about the rising level of negativity in social media sites. This negativity has found its way into sites that are supposedly intended for prosocial civic engagement. To examine how hostility impacts behavior in a user-generated, prosocial context, an experimental study was conducted using an online petition modeled after those posted to the website Change.org. This study examines whether negativity causes a contagion effect leading to more negativity and the different types of negativity that may occur. Results suggest that when users read negative-toned petitions, a contagion effect increases both anger and anxiety. However, our findings are not consistent with previous literature that argues anger leads to increased proactive behavior. Instead, we find that while anxiety leads to an increase in petition-related action, anger does not. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications for scholars and those looking to participate in social justice via online platforms.
... The study of the use of social media to obtain and discuss political information and candidates has become an active research topic in the HCI and CSCW community. Several types of social media have been studied like political blogs [1, 9, 38, 40], discussion forums [23], online videos [18, 19], and pure SNSs like Facebook and Twitter [14, 25, 26, 27]. Twitter, a popular microblogging SNS, has more recently received particular attention by the research community in the context of political discourse. ...
Conference Paper
An increasing number of people are using microblogs to broadcast their thoughts in real time as they watch televised political events. Microblogging social network sites (SNSs) such as Twitter generate a parallel stream of information and opinion. It is presumed that the additional content enhances the viewing experience, but our experiment explores the validity of this assumption. We studied how tweeting, or passively observing Twitter during a debate, influenced affect, recall and vote decision. For most measures, participants' average feeling and recall toward the candidates did not depend on Twitter activity, but Twitter activity did matter for vote choice. People who actively tweeted changed their voting choice to reflect the majority sentiment on Twitter. Results are discussed in terms of the possibility that active tweeting leads to greater engagement but that it may also make people more susceptible to social influence.
... Thus, there is a call for understanding interactions among technology, institutions, and organizations to open the black box of social media use in government to better understand not only adoption, but also strategic approaches and concrete applications of social media (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, & Gil-Garcia, 2013;Mergel, 2013b). However, most research has focused on understanding interactions among users of social media (Robertson, Douglas, Maruyama, & Semaan, 2013;Sandoval-Almazan & Ramon Gil-Garcia, 2014;Tobias, 2011), on main stages or determinants of social media adoption (Bonsón, Torres, Royo, & Flores, 2012;Kavanaugh et al., 2012;Mergel, 2013b;Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013;Nah & Saxton, 2013), and more recently, on understanding the engaging effect of different types of individual government messages sent through social media (Bonsón et al., 2015;Lev-On & Steinfeld, 2015;Zavattaro et al., 2015). In this way, our contribution is to fill this gap in the literature by describing in more detail a specific application of social media as well as providing some theoretical insights in the process of developing social media strategies in government. ...
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Organizations of all types are taking advantage of social media and social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with their stakeholders. Public managers are also using social media as an engaging and low cost strategy in social marketing programs. However, social media and social networks constitute good examples of technology artifacts with embedded social structures that interact with organizational strategies, potentially limiting design strategies. The technology enactment framework has been used to analyze the factors that affect the adoption implementation, and use of social media technology the case of the Puebla Sana (Healthy Puebla) program in the State of Puebla, Mexico. Social media is used as a key component of a social marketing strategy to promote healthy habits. The case illustrates complex interactions between technology and organizational properties in the process of technology enactment.
... Participants were looking for evidence that showed the candidate had the support of the community. This extended beyond the usual cheerleading [28,29] comments of general support such as "I'm voting for you!" or "Go DuPree!". Photos were relied on heavily for this aspect of knowledge gathering, providing direct evidence of actual supporters engaged in campaign activities. ...
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An increasing number of people are turning to social media to find political information and discuss politics, including the technologically savvy Millennial generation. Our study looks at how young voters use social media to evaluate political candidates. Subjects were shown the Facebook walls of two U.S. politicians running for the seat of governor in the 2011 Mississippi election. Exposure was followed by semi-structured interviews to discover what knowledge they found salient. Content analysis found evidence that the knowledge they gained from Facebook influenced their evaluation of the candidates. Further, we contrast this to a control group that was exposed to related news articles without a social media component. We found that social media produced the additional voting criterion of community, which extends beyond the traditional criteria in political science literature of issues and character. Community interaction influences the vote decision.
... Previous studies paint a contradictory picture. Robertson et al. (2013), for example, have found out that there are more negative messages than positive ones in social media. Thelwall et al., (2010), among others, have come to opposite conclusion. ...
... Rather, a habitual mode of thinking, in which the user's posts are driven more by disposition than deliberation, is a better fit for expressive behaviors like making and sharing Facebook posts and Tweets. Recent observations of ideological divides and partisan discourses on social media and online forums indicate that online political expression is indeed a strong reflection of users' political dispositions (Himelboim et al., 2013;Robertson, Douglas, Maruyama, & Semaan, 2013;Yardi & boyd, 2010). ...
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Over the past decade, various online communication platforms have empowered citizens to express themselves politically. Although the political impact of online citizen expression has drawn considerable attention, research has largely focused on whether and how citizen-generated messages influence the public as an information alternative to traditional news outlets. The present study aims to provide a new perspective on understanding citizen expression by examining its political implications for the expressers themselves rather than those exposed to the expressed ideas. Data from a national survey and an online discussion forum study suggest that expressing oneself about politics provides self-reinforcing feedback. Political expressions on social media and the online forum were found to a) reinforce the expressers’ partisan thought process and b) harden their pre-existing political preferences. Implications for the role the Internet plays in democracy will be discussed.
... Thus, there is a call for understanding interactions among technology, institutions, and organizations to open the black box of social media use in government to better understand not only adoption, but also strategic approaches and concrete applications of social media (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, & Gil-Garcia, 2013;Mergel, 2013b). However, most research has focused on understanding interactions among users of social media (Robertson, Douglas, Maruyama, & Semaan, 2013;Sandoval-Almazan & Ramon Gil-Garcia, 2014;Tobias, 2011), on main stages or determinants of social media adoption (Bonsón, Torres, Royo, & Flores, 2012;Kavanaugh et al., 2012;Mergel, 2013b;Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013;Nah & Saxton, 2013), and more recently, on understanding the engaging effect of different types of individual government messages sent through social media (Bonsón et al., 2015;Lev-On & Steinfeld, 2015;Zavattaro et al., 2015). In this way, our contribution is to fill this gap in the literature by describing in more detail a specific application of social media as well as providing some theoretical insights in the process of developing social media strategies in government. ...
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Governments have widely adopted social media as tools to communicate and engage with citizens or as tools for service delivery. Current research suggests that social media adoption in government has been mainly market driven and that the various adoption strategies have resulted from a combination of trial and error, imitation, and both informal and formal knowledge exchanges. Given the nature of the adoption process and the nature of social media, the use of social media in government involves high levels of risk and uncertainty, and the main barriers of adoption lay in the organizational and institutional arrangements of government organizations. Nevertheless, little or no research has looked for the ways in which government organizations design strategies or use social media. In this paper, we open the black box to look at the process of adoption and implementation of social media in a government-lead social marketing program to promote healthy habits among young people living in urban areas, the Puebla Sana (Healthy Puebla) program. The case suggests that commercial social media, such as Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter, are instances of sociomaterial systems, and to take advantage of their features, government organizations need to collaborate with multiple individual and organizational actors in the co-creation of a message to accomplish their goals.
... Previous studies paint a contradictory picture. Robertson et al. (2013), for example, have found out that there are more negative messages than positive ones in social media. Thelwall et al. (2010), among others, have come to an opposite conclusion. ...
... A positive interpretation of freedom of speech, in turn, is that it enables the emergence of 'public spheres' envisioned by Habermas (1989). Internet-based public spheres enable civic activities and political participation; that is, " citizens can gather together virtually, irrespective of geographic location, and engage in information exchange and rational discussion " (Robertson et al. 2013). On the other hand, many studies have pointed out that social media has become a place for venting negative experiences and expressing dissatisfaction (Lee & Cude 2012; Bae & Lee 2012). ...
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Social media has become a place for discussion and debate on controversial topics and, thus, provides an opportunity to influence public opinion. This possibility has given rise to a specific behaviour known as trolling, which can be found in almost every discussion that includes emotionally appealing topics. Trolling is a useful tool for any organisation willing to force a discussion off-track when one has no proper facts to back one’s arguments. Previous research has indicated that social media analytics tools can be utilised for automated detection of trolling. This paper provides tools for detecting message automation utilized in trolling.
... De hecho, estos factores organizacionales e institucionales constituyen los principales obstáculos para la adopción de los medios sociales (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, & Gil-Garcia, 2013;Mergel, 2013b). La investigación actual se ha orientado a entender las interacciones entre los usuarios de los medios sociales (Robertson, Douglas, Maruyama, & Semaan, 2013;Sandoval-Almazan & Ramon Gil-Garcia, 2014;Tobias, 2011b), o las principales etapas o determinantes de la adopción por parte de organizaciones públicas (Mergel, 2013b;Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013;Reddick & Norris, 2013). Se requiere aún mayor guía en términos de cómo utilizar estos medios. ...
Chapter
Aunque el término gobierno electrónico surgió hace aproximadamente 20 años, los gobiernos han venido desarrollando aplicaciones que utilizan tecnologías de información desde los años 50s. Las aplicaciones se orientan tanto a áreas de atención al ciudadano, administración de procesos, comunicación social o promoción. Los administradores públicos están utilizando los medios sociales, como Facebook, Youtube o Twitter, como una estrategia de bajo costo para estar en contacto con la ciudadanía en diferentes programas, como los programas de marketing social. El marketing social es una disciplina que nació en los años 70 cuando los principios y prácticas desarrolladas para vender productos y servicios comenzaron a aplicarse a vender ideas, actitudes o nuevos comportamientos. En este trabajo, analizamos el proceso de adopción y aplicación de los medios sociales en un programa de marketing social para promover hábitos saludables entre los jóvenes que viven en las zonas urbanas, el programa Puebla Sana. El caso sugiere que los medios sociales comerciales como Facebook, Youtube o Twitter son herramientas adecuadas para llevar a cabo este tipo de programas en ese segmento de población mexicana; sin embargo, también muestra las dificultades encontradas al implementar estos programas y hace recomendaciones de cómo afrontar estas dificultades.
... It seems that negative interactions in political issues are different from positive interactions. According to one sentiment analysis of the affective nature of online political comments, positive comments exceeded negative ones, but that positive comments decreased over time while negative comments increased over time (Robertson, Douglas, Maruyama, & Semaan, 2013). One possible explanation is provided by Sobkowicz & Sobkowicz (2012), who have argued that political online discussion turns negative due to the need to attract attention. ...
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A survey study was conducted to explore whether certain demographic variables such as age, gender and education, and differences in individuals’ social media activity, ex-plain differences in disclosing negative emotions in social media. The study found a relationship between age and the tendency to express and share negative emotions. The analysis shows that older users were more moderate in disclosing negative emotions than their younger counter-parts. Instead, gender and education were not statistically significant factors in explaining social media behaviour. The study also shows that the more active the user is in social media, the more probably he or she also discloses negative emotions. The study underscores the importance of managing of negative social media content, and identi-fies several avenues for further studies.
... A platform such as Xbox gaming is also used for forecasting election [13].Grosse et al. [14] developed a framework which allows mining opinions from Twitter based on incrementally generated queries. Robertson et al., [15] introduced "realized public sphere" in virtual spaces in contrast to political discourse. Hughes and Palen [16] argue in favor of using microblogs as a public information channel used by authorities, for instance in emergency situations. ...
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Exploiting social media data by extracting key information from it is one of the great challenges in data mining and knowledge discovery. Every election campaign has an online presence of voters which uses these social media platform to express their sentiments and opinions towards political parties, leaders and important topics. This paper presents a novel data collection technique for prediction of election outcomes and a topic modeling method for extracting topics. Data collection technique used RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds of news articles and trending keywords from Twitter simultaneously and constructed an intelligent prediction model based primarily on the volume of tweets and sentiment of users. This paper effort to improve electoral predictions using social media data based dynamic keyword methodology. Different techniques for electoral prediction based on social media data has been investigated based on existing literature and isolate the factors which improve our methodology. Meaningful inferences such as the popularity of leaders and parties during different intervals, trending issues, and important factors are extracted from the data set. The election outcomes are compared with traditional methods used by survey agencies for exit polls and validation of results showed that social media data can predict with better accuracy. The research has identified that data collection technique and timing play an important role in yielding better accuracy in predicting outcomes and extracting meaningful inferences.
... In summary, earlier studies have suggested that negative emotion is an important mechanism underlying the relationship between network heterogeneity and polarization. In the context of social media era particularly, emotion needs to be considered as users are more likely to express negative emotions to political opponents, compared to face-to-face environments (Robertson et al., 2013). Despite the imperative role of emotion in polarization, extant research on negative emotions (fear, particularly) has not considered different types of emotions such as whether fear of a risky situation or fear of political opponent is respectively related to polarization among publics. ...
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Recent studies have shown mixed findings regarding the relationship between network heterogeneity on social media and opinion polarization. Focusing on individual-level variables (i.e., individuals' political orientation, fear of a risky situation, and fear of an out-group), the objective of this study was to investigate opinion polarization over North Korean issues that have brought out threats to South Koreans and tangled with political orientations in the nation. Our analysis indicated that network heterogeneity on social media could decrease polarization. Moderation effects of political orientation and fear of political opponents in the relationship between network heterogeneity and polarization were also found. Findings of this study extend previous discussions regarding the relationship between network heterogeneity and polarization in the context of social media by concentrating on North Korea's threatening situation.
... al. (2016) mentioned the need of understanding the relationship between technology, institution, and organizations in government are to better acknowledge the adoption, strategic approaches, and concrete application of social media (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, & Gil-Garcia, 2013;Mergel, 2013b). Recently, studies are focusing on interaction between users on social media (Robertson et al., 2013;Sandoval-Almazan & Ramon Gil-Garcia, 2014;Tobias, 2011), social media adoption (Bonsón, Royo, & Ratkai, 2015;Mergel, 2013a, b;Nah & Saxton, 2013), and different types of individual government messages send via social media (Bonsón et al., 2015;Lev-On & Steinfeld, 2015;Zavattaro, French, & Mohanty, 2015). ...
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Chapter
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Chapter
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With increasing media choice and diverse media outlets, people have more opportunities to engage in selective exposure. The present study investigates this phenomenon by looking at the widely viewed anti–President George W. Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Using survey data gathered from a national sample before and after the opening of Fahrenheit 9/11, this study investigates the degree of selective exposure and the potential media effects occurring as a result of exposure to the film. The data provide evidence that selective exposure occurred—the audience for the film held more negative attitudes toward President George W. Bush. This study then turns to evaluating whether the film had political effects. Results suggest that those who viewed the film had significantly more negative attitudes toward Bush compared to those who intended to view the film, even after controlling for demographic, political, and media use differences between the groups. Results also suggest that political discussion with friends and family did not moderate the movie's effect, but that viewing the film may have inspired people to engage in more political discussion. Those viewing the film had higher levels of political discussion compared to those intending to view the film, even after controlling for a battery of other variables. Discussion of the results provides insight into the relationship between theories of media effects and selective exposure.
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The theme of the Internet and the public sphere now has a permanent place on research agendas and in intellectual inquiry; it is entering the mainstream of Political communication studies. The first part of this presentation briefly pulls together key elements in the public sphere perspective, underscoring three main analytic dimensions: the structural, the representational, and the interactional. Then the discussion addresses some central themes in the current difficulties facing democracy, refracted through the lens of the public sphere perspective. In particular, the destabilization of political communication systems is seen as a context for understanding the role of the Internet: It enters into, as well as contributes to, this destabilization. At the same time, the notion of destabilization can also embody a positive sense, pointing to dispersions of older patterns that may have outlived their utility. Further, the discussion takes up obvious positive consequences that follow from the Internet, for example that it extends and pluralizes the public sphere in a number of ways. Thereafter the focus moves on to the interactional dimension of the public sphere, specifically in regard to recent research on how deliberation proceeds in the online public sphere in the contemporary environment of political communication. Finally, the analytic category of deliberative democracy is critically examined; while useful, some of its rationalist biases, particularly in the context of extra-parliamentarian politics, limit its utility. It is suggested that the concept of civic cultures offers an alternative way to understand the significance of online political discussion.
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This article reviews recent progress in modeling human cognitive processes. Particular attention is paid to the use of computer programming languages as a formalism for modeling, and to computer simulation of the behavior of the systems modeled. Theories of human cognitive processes can be attempted at several levels: at the level of neural processes, at the level of elementary information processes (e.g., retrieval from memory, scanning down lists in memory, comparing simple symbols, etc.), or at the level of higher mental processes (e.g., problem solving, concept attainment). This article will not deal at all with neural models; it focuses mainly upon higher mental processes, but not without some attention to modeling the elementary processes and especially to the relationships between elementary and complex processes.
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Today, people have ample opportunity to engage in selective exposure, the selection of information matching their beliefs. Whether this is occurring, however, is a matter of debate. While some worry that people increasingly are seeking out likeminded views, others propose that newer media provide an increased opportunity for exposure to diverse views. In returning to the concept of selective exposure, this article argues that certain topics, such as politics, are more likely to inspire selective exposure and that research should investigate habitual media exposure patterns, as opposed to single exposure decisions. This study investigates whether different media types (newspapers, political talk radio, cable news, and Internet) are more likely to inspire selective exposure. Using data from the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey, evidence supports the idea that people’s political beliefs are related to their media exposure—a pattern that persists across media types. Over-time analyses suggest that people’s political beliefs motivate their media use patterns and that cable news audiences became increasingly politically divided over the course of the 2004 election.
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This paper discusses the role of blogs, wikis, and online discussion boards in enabling rational-critical debate. I will use the work of Jürgen Habermas to explain why wikis, blogs, and online bulletin boards are all potentially valuable tools for the creation and maintenance of a critical public sphere. Habermas’ story ends on a sad note; the public writing environments he argues were so essential to the formation of a critical public sphere failed as commercialism and mass media diminished the role of the community and private persons. Unfortunately, the Internet will likely suffer a similar fate if we do not take action to preserve its inherently democratic and decentralized architecture. Here, I describe the integral role that blogs, wikis, and discussion boards play in fostering public discussion and ways they can be incorporated into college composition courses.
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We present a large-scale analysis of the content of weblogs dating back to the release of the Blogger program in 1999. Over one million blogs were analyzed from their conception through June 2006. These data was submitted to the Text Analysis: Word Counts program [12], which conducted a word-count analysis using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Counts (LIWC) dictionaries [20] to provide and analyze a representative sample of blogger word usage. Covariation among LIWC dictionaries suggests that blogs vary along five psychologically relevant linguistic dimensions: Melancholy, Socialness, Ranting, Metaphysicality, and Work-Relatedness. These variables and others were subjected to a cluster analysis in an attempt to extract natural usage groups to inform design of blogging systems, the results of which were mixed.
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I analyze the use of emotion words for approximately 100 million Facebook users since September of 2007. "Gross national happiness" is operationalized as a standardized difference between the use of positive and negative words, aggregated across days, and present a graph of this metric. I begin to validate this metric by showing that positive and negative word use in status updates covaries with self-reported satisfaction with life (convergent validity), and also note that the graph shows peaks and valleys on days that are culturally and emotionally significant (face validity). I discuss the development and computation of this metric, argue that this metric and graph serves as a representation of the overall emotional health of the nation, and discuss the importance of tracking such metrics.
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We propose a method of measuring people's sense of presence in computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems) based on linguistic features of their dialogues. We create variations in presence by asking participants to collaborate on physical tasks in four CMC conditions. We then correlate self-reported feelings of presence with the use of specific linguistic features. Regression analyses show that 30% of the variance in self-reported presence can be accounted for by a small number of task-independent linguistic features. Even better prediction can be obtained when self-reported coordination is added to the regression equation. We conclude that linguistic measures of presence have value for studies of CMC.
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With this study we seek to provide an understanding of the discourse and agenda setting practices of an online issue based political group, "Join the Coffee Party Movement" (JCPM) in the United States. The stated goals of JCPM are to establish a place for individuals who identify themselves as disenfranchised to discuss and take action on issues of social and economic policy in the US. JCPM is one example of hundreds of issue-based organizations emerging on Facebook worldwide. Since its inception in January 2010, over 344,000 Facebook members have become followers of the JCPM page. Our analysis of the text of the discourse and the social networks, which emerge on the JCPM page, show three surprising results. First, in contrast to prior studies, significant deliberative discourse among members emerges in this open, public space without prompting. Second, the discourse practices and structure that emerge on the JCPM Facebook page show two types of leadership: Centralized, organizational leadership, and decentralized leadership from participants. Third, we identify two structural characteristics of this virtual political organization using social network analysis of trace data: a) Organizational leaders are not central to discussions of controversial topics; b) Advocacy and dissent behavior in the discussions are reflected in the social network structure. Our findings have implications for the practices and technology designs used to engage citizens through social and participatory media.
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This essay provides an account of the perspectives of users of online political discussion spaces. In-depth interviews with 69 people who participate in online political discussion groups were conducted. The interviews suggest that they perceive themselves to be interacting with persons who differ from them. They appreciate and enjoy the diversity of people and opinions they encounter online. Although some interview participants expressed dislike at encountering racist or xenophobic perspectives, others appreciated the broad range of opinions they encountered. These findings lend support to the view that people appreciate the diversity of persons and viewpoints they encounter in their chosen discussion spaces. Information provided by interviewees did not offer much support for the homophily perspective–that people seek out like-minded others online–which raises questions about the accuracy of that perspective in characterizing people's online communication behavior.
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Both the theory of the public sphere and the utopian rhetoric surrounding the Internet have been a focus of scholars for some time. Given the ability of people to connect with others around the globe through the Internet, could the Internet give rise to online public spheres? If so, how would such spaces work? This article proposes that public spheres do exist on the Internet, and details how one functions. The case under study is the website Slashdot (http://slashdot.org), an online community of computer enthusiasts. The article studies the mechanisms, both normative and in code, that are vital to Slashdot's functioning, and shows how they help Slashdot function as a public sphere.
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Research on the Internet's role in politics has struggled to transcend technological determinism -- the assumption, often inadvertent, that the technology simply imprints its own logic on social relationships. An alternative approach traces the ways, often numerous, in which an institution's participants appropriate the technology in the service of goals, strategies, and relationships that the institution has already organized. This amplification model can be applied in analyzing the Internet's role in politics. After critically surveying a list of widely held views on the matter, this paper illustrates how the amplification model might be applied to concrete problems. These include the development of social networks and ways that technology is used to bind people together into a polity.