December 09, 2009

Public Interest in “Climategate”

Last week, Jan Corn on Associated Content compared the public interest in “Climategate” to the Tiger Woods scandal using an analysis of quantity of Twitter posts.


Building on the Twitter analysis, EUReferendum compared “the number of general web pages on Google compared with the number of news reports recorded.”  That analysis concluded that “the public in general are more interested in "Climategate" than Tiger Woods, by a factor of nearly 20 times.”


Really?  I guess it all depends on how you define the public. 


Does the quantity of twitter messages or web pages on a topic = general public interest? Maybe it is an indication that a subset of the public is inordinately focused on it while the rest of the public is not paying attention? 


An examination (see Health Care and Energy Policy – A Tale of Two Networks ) of the spread of content associated with “climategate” indicates that apart from the conservative bloggers and those that focus on climate skepticism this issue does not appear to be one where the public at large is paying attention.


The maps below represent links from bloggers to the top content (total links from blogs) on this topic from each of the following sources: YouTube; Fox News; the Washington Post; and the New York Times.  With the exception of the Times piece, which relative to the other articles downplayed the importance of the issue, the link patterns clearly show content that is gaining lots of attention from a narrow audience.



(NOTE – Morningside embargoes data from our ongoing research on Health and Energy policy for one week.  Contact us to find out about our non-embargoed subscription service and for custom research).





December 07, 2009

Stupak Proponents Relatively Quiet

Stupak With the Senate preparing to debate the Nelson Amendment (Senate version of the Stupak  Amendment) restricting abortion in the health care bill we took a look at how bloggers have been reacting to the Stupak Amendment. 


The Stupak Amendment has generated fever-pitch blog discussion on the left – and relative silence on the right.  While bloggers on the left have been vocal and prolific in their opposition, the issue has generated relatively little discussion among conservative bloggers – even among those who would, presumably, be the measure’s strongest proponents.


Typically, political hot potatoes in the debate have generated blog discussion that is distributed equally between left and right.


Why the relative silence from right-wing bloggers on Stupak?


(NOTE – Morningside embargoes data from our ongoing research on Health and Energy policy for one week.  Contact us to find out about our non-embargoed subscription service and for custom research).

November 06, 2009

Liberals Showing Health Care Blogmentum

HtimeWith the House of Representatives preparing to vote on health care reform, the intensity of conservative bloggers focus on health care has been decreasing while the grassroots liberal bloggers have turned up the heat.  

Morningside Analytics tracking of the conversations of the 6,000 bloggers most focused on health care issues shows that the overall conversation on health care policy (measured by an index of the use of the terms used in the conversation) across the entire blogosphere peeked in August.    However, a closer look at the bloggers who share attentive behavior (link to similar sources) shows the intensity level varies fairly dramatically.

November 03, 2009

Messages & Sources of Online Energy & Health Policy Discussions - Video (Part 3)

How are different groups talking about energy and health policy?

What are the sources that are influencing these different groups?

The video above is from a presentation made earlier this month at the MIT Summit Conference Series.

October 29, 2009

Video (Part 2) - Overview and Comparison of Energy and Health Policy Networks

John Kelly presents an overview of the online networks formed around energy and health policy:

The video above is from a presentation made earlier this month at the MIT Summit Conference Series

October 27, 2009

Energy and Health Policy Analysis Methodology

Wondering how we make all the charts and the meaning behind them? 

The following five-minute video is the first installment of a presentation made by John Kelly, Founder and Chief Scientist of Morningside Analytics, of the Energy and Health network analysis.

The presentation made earlier this month at the MIT Summit Conference Series covers the methodology Morningside uses in creating our issue specific social network analysis report.

Mobilizing Support and Measuring Success

GroupcThe momentum of support organized by that culminated last Saturday with 4,300 events provides a great example of not just mobilizing support, but of expanding the voices in support of an issue.
An analysis of the citation histories of English language bloggers focused on energy issues, shows that surpassed the reach of the traditional environmental advocacy organizations over the two months before their day of action.
Environmental groups, like most traditional advocacy organizations, are best at mobilizing their known supporters and communicating with the existing political channels.  However, as the charts below illustrate, these organizations – unlike – have not had the reach into new audiences such as green parents and green tech.
Our research on the relationships, sources and language of these new audiences has found that they tend to be less political and more focused on their personal contribution to climate change (more focused on “carbon footprint” then the environmentalists who are more focused on “carbon capture”)., which focuses on building a movement around climate change and setting a specific goal for climate change negotiations, successfully reached an audience outside of the traditional political dialogue.
In looking at the recent coverage on the health care debate about the “public option” and with the NYT reporting that “some prominent scientists and economists focusing on climate policy said the 350 target was so unrealistic that the campaign risked not being taken seriously,” one has to wonder if the way to be taken seriously outside the political bubble is to be shunned by the experts pointing out what is realistic.






October 21, 2009

Health Care Policy – The Terms of the Debate

As House Democrats move forward with their version of health care legislation that includes the public option, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the various messages and terms used in the online debate have Healtherms evolved over the last few months.
Despite the lack of clarity of what is contained within the “public option,” public option advocates appear to have regained control over defining the terms of the debate.  
An analysis of the terms used by the bloggers at the center of the health care debate (see Morningside’s recent social network analysis on health care policy ) shows that attempts to rebrand the public option as “rationing,” a “government takeover,” or “socialized medicine” have lost steam after peaking in August.
While use of the term “public option” has also decreased since August, it has dominated the overall health care debate since June.
The only health care related term (with the exception of terms to broad to have meaning such as “health care reform”) that was used by bloggers that exceeded “public option” in a given week was “death panel,” which peeked in early August.

The charts below map the use of these terms since June across each of the Attentive Clusters of bloggers that Morningside identified in our research.


October 16, 2009

Advocacy Groups Social Media Impact on Energy Debate

Last week, I outlined the differences between the structure of the network of bloggers discussing health care policy and those discussing energy policy.

The following maps showing the positioning of organizations within the network of bloggers focused on energy policy provides an interesting contrast to the maps included in last night's post on health policy.

The organizations (Sierra Club, American Wind Energy Association, League of Conservation Voters, and the US Chamber of Commerce) included were among those that were reported to be using the most social media tools.

While each of these groups shows strengths within different parts of the map, none of them are as concentrated within the political core as the organizations focused on health care.





October 15, 2009

Is Social Media Embracing the Big DC Orgs?

As Micah Sifry reported in TechPresident, a recent study documents how most of the big DC orgs are not embracing social media tools.

While the quantity of social media tools used provides some insight into an organization’s embrace of social media, an examination of links to these organizations from the bloggers at the center of the online policy debates provides a measurement of the impact of such activity.

To provide such an analysis, we compared the ten organizations that are using the most social media tools with the top 4000 sources used by the bloggers in Morningside's recent health and energy policy research.

While the sources most used by bloggers are media outlets (both traditional and new media), advocacy organizations are cited particularly within discussions on policy issues.

Compared to the other organizations that were included in the social media tools study, the Sierra Club (the organization that used the most social media tools - ten ), was also the organization that was most cited as a source from the blogs most focused on energy policy.

Looking at the same organizations, SEIU (second in the social media tools study using nine social media tools), was the organization that was most cited as a source within the blogs focused on health policy.

However, after the Sierra Club and SEIU the correlations between tools used and links trail off.  Two of the four organizations that used eight social media tools and three of the four of the organizations that used seven were not within the top sources used by bloggers discussing energy or health policy.

The American Medical Association, which used only one social media tool, was cited as a source by bloggers engaged in health policy more then any other group in that study with the exception of SEIU and the Human Rights Campaign.

In looking at the top sources used by both bloggers focused on health or energy policy, several large DC organizations that were not part of the social media tools study (including the Center for American Progress, the ACLU, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute) far outpaced any of the groups that were in that study.  A look at the social media tools used by these organizations might provide some additional insights.

All that being said, a specific organization’s social media impact can only be measured in relation to its own goals.  While some organizations engage with social media to mobilize their base, others are trying to expand support for their issues.

The following maps document the footprint that some of these organizations are having on the network of bloggers focused on health policy.  Depending on these organization’s own goals the maps could be showing social media success or social media failure.