TimesSelect Pundit Buzz Rankings, Before and During

The following numbers list references to the writer's name in the blog posts. Certain columnists are commonly known by a nickname (Tom, Bill, Nick, Josh), and thus I queried both results and added them together. It is possible these include overlapping pages. In one case (George Will), I had to estimate the number of references to the columnist and not to the coincidental use of his name in a completely different context: from looking at the last 50 blog posts, 20% were constructions where “will” was used as a verb. (USA Today: "Boy George Will Be Picking Up Street Trash.")

Part 1: TimesSelect Buzz Rankings

Three weeks ago, Jeff Jarvis wrote on his blog: "TimesSelect cost the paper much more in the internet age: It took the Times columnists out of the conversation and reduced their influence in America and worldwide."

This sentiment was echoed by many and challenged by few. We'd like to look at the data, but first we must understand the terms.

TimesSelect Pundit Buzz Graph, 2003-2007

This chart visually illustrates the number of mentions from blogs to columnists in the previously-defined “punditsphere” in each of the last four years up until September 17, 2007 (see the source data). Each year is illustrated by a different color:

TimesSelect Pundit Buzz: Annual Growth

Continuing our analysis, we want to get a better measure of the annual growth. The first column takes the blog popularity from the 12 months ending 9/17/2005, and compares it to the prior 12-month period. As noted before, we are using the odd cutoff date of 9/17 to roughly correspond to the TimesSelect period (see data). 

Part 2: Times Readership Numbers

What happened to the audience during the two years of TimesSelect?

Google reports that there were 4.8 million references to "New York Times" in the blogs over the two years. If we assume that these posts generally referenced  one of the 350,000 published articles over the two years (at least, to the same degree that a reference of "Frank Rich" referenced a particular column– a BlogPulse trend graph tends to confirm a weekly spike for a weekly column), then we conclude that the averages references per article is 14. One can infer that the columns, at least to the opinionators in the blogosphere, are ten times as popular. Still, the 177,169 references only represented 3% of the blog buzz to the Times. Suppose we double this to account for the TimesSelect columnists in the Other sections, and then apply our 20% loss, we then conclude that the perceived audience drop for nytimes.com as a whole was 1-2%.

a Will of Rights Online (followup to Slate piece)

After my investigation into Search Engine Obfuscation— the case of the Times's pages on Allen Kraus dwarfing the search rankings on Google– I emailed a number of the bloggers who'd written about it last week. The response was underwhelming. (Begging the Times to start a blog back in 2003, Dave Winer had explained: "In the weblog world we don't string together soundbites to create a 'story' — we continually cover an area, and comment on developments over time." In theory, yes…)

Paper Trust

The New York Times, like other media publications, faces two major challenges today regarding the relationship with their readers. First, the newspaper needs to give its readers a reason to keep subscribing, as news can well be pulled from anywhere. Second, the readers need their newspaper to not magnify or manufacture reports of any alleged misdeeds.

Tales of the Tapes

What the odd discovery of tapes that far-off year of 1994 mean for multimedia archival and research.

CommResp and AutoAdmin(t)

When I wrote the action plan for Comment Management Responsibility (“CommResp”) in April, I had hoped to test it against additional online communties. Oddly, I hadn't been aware about the brewing storm that month concerning the AutoAdmit law student discussion board and its rampant misogyny.

Pitching High and Inside

I was busy on a follow-up of my Talking Points Meme research, and then the bloggers code of conduct story hit me like a Dice-K gyroball. Granted, the gyroball is a media creation, just like the bloggers code of conduct, but the ball was in the air and I had to find my bat. I did some deep thinking and deep linking, and churned out 3,000 words on the larger picture about comment management responsibility.

CommResp for MeanKids?

Would the MeanKids/Kathy Sierra saga have unfolded differently under CommResp? That’s a tricky question. Perhaps, perhaps not. I’m just reading about the whole genesis of the problem now.

Comment Management Responsibility – Concerns

I thought up a number of concerns with CommResp; I may add to this list.

Why bother? Can't commenting policies be written in plain English, or just applied ad hoc?

The articulation CommResp is intended to serve two purposes. One, to serve publishers and readers in directly communicating what rules apply. But more importantly, it should suggest the realm of possibilities for what rules there can be.

Comment Management Responsibility — a proposal

Just as Creative Commons cleverly emphasizes the rights of users (over what appear to be the overly restrictive rights of coyright), so should Comment Management Responsibility ("CommResp") emphasize the rights of the community members. O'Reilly pointed to the blogher Code of Conduct as an exemplary policy (note: I've been nominated as by the blogher co-founder as "bloghim"), but it focuses mostly on the prohibitions.

A Brief History of Online Commenting Norms

The difficulties of comment management have been known for some time. What follows is a brief history [though I may update it later.]

Esther Dyson, in her popular-selling book Release 2.0 about the emerging Internet a decade ago (predating the current trend of "2.0" marketing) considered anonymous communities online. Whereas ad hoc Internet communities seemed to thrive with anonymity, the most influential online community of all— the San Francisco-based WELL– was nurtured by the philosophy that all identities were to be known, and participants were encouraged to meet each other in real life. Founder Stewart Brand felt very strongly in the philosophy of You Own Your Own Words — that each person would have to post with their real identity. In fact, as Dyson recalled, a WELL experiment into anonymity proved disastrous. We can probably conclude that the natural evolution of communities is to go from anonymity to familiarity, and not the other around.

Comment Management Responsibility – Introduction

Tim O’Reilly, head of the eponymous computer publishing firm, recently tried to tackle this issue with a “Call for a Blogger’s Code of Conduct” last week. In the comments, he conceded that it was misleading here to use the term “blogger” (see Bloggers: Some Formal Definitions).

iTrust: Millions of iPod users can’t be wrong…

When life gives you apples…

Sunday’s Times amplified the story of one Melanie Tucker, whose suit against Apple Computer, Inc. last year must now be updated to reflect that the defendent has shed the "Computer" appellation from its corporate name. Apple is now quite solidly in the media business, and it is for this Ms. Tucker complains in her suit. To wit: the Apple iPod can play music from only one electronic music store, Apple’s itTunes (as well as, it should be noted, music files from the owner’s collection). And music from Apple iTunes can only be played on an Apple iPod and not any other device. What is fairly convenient for the Apple, Inc., and to millions of users, is apparently some gross inconvenience to a few. To Tucker, this is "crippleware" a product tie-in which violates United States and California antitrust laws.

Wikiseeding and wikiplanting

In honor of the Wikipedia community gathering across the river in Cambridge at the Berkman Center for the Wikimania 2006 conference— or rather, exploiting the occasion that the wiki watchdogs will have their attention elsewhere until Sunday– I edited an entry in Wikipedia.

The entry I edited: the one for the word wiki.

Waking up to UN Reform

I wanted to start the new year if with a modest proposal. But it would be immodest without some proper background. The subject for today is UN Reform, because here at Civilities we occasionally distract ourselves from the mechanics of media structures to find out how they apply in the real world, and furthermore whether there is any course of action we might take to better mankind.

The New York Times begins the year by giving an update on such a modest proposal: Officials at U.N. Seek Fast Action on Rights Panel. Paraphrasing the article, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan explains thus: some countries participate “not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others” with the consequence being that “a credibility deficit has developed, which casts a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.” The position of the United States, according to Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristen Silverberg, is “to improve the membership criteria so that countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan were not eligible.”

the White Swan Consultants

A year ago I had theorized that if you shrunk the blogosphere to a much more compact pundisphere, the majority of people who use the Internet for something like getting political information wouldn’t notice. That was a useless prediction to make as it can’t be test. But what would be useful for the lesser pundisphere to do is to actually track predictions that the greater pundits make. It doesn’t take many people to make predictions, so it’s probably more of a noble calling for the rest of us to keep score. With the A-List, if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.

In thinking about how to write up a Civilities-style proposal, I started mining the old Brill’s Content magazine– which for a few years at the turn of the millenium was a handy gloss of the information age. Its hundred-and-fifty pages,were news about the news, reviews of the news, and just about everything would look for in a magazine if one weren’t lookinf for advertisements. It had a running gag which took the trouble to actually rate how many of the predictions made by the Sunday pundits came true. For kicks, the magazine also compared them to a prognosticator on loan from a local zoo, Chippy the Chimp. (In his debut in the August 1999 issue, Chippy went 3 for 6 , “good enough to beat George Will and John McLaughlin”).

Good Night, and Good Luck on your Website

The current movie Good Night and Good Luck, about Edward R. Murrow and directed by George Clooney, has been co-produced by a group called Participant Productions. They got a good head start with setting up companion websites (using the Drupal software, no less) for their films (which also include Syriana, Murderball, and North Country), but these are mere baby steps. If they want to have an activist mission, they must have an educational mission first. And it would also be best of them to avoid the scattershot "blog" approach and instead adopt a constructive media approach. Here’s my review that I also posted on their site.

Who’s Respected in Online Journalism?

I had thought of going to the Online News Association conference in NYC this past weekend, but I passed and read the commentary online. All I’d wanted to do was just ask some questions of some members. I figured it’s just as easy to ask on the mailing list.

Meet the Fakers: Where are the good fake blogs?

I have a confession to make, which may surprise close readers of this space. Earlier this year, I wanted to actually start a blog– you know, write off the cuff like a blubbering fool about any topic that crossed somebody else’s mind. I needed help, some of my curmudgeonly correspondents to help breathe life into a made-up person named Fabio Folio. Nobody wanted to help, and then I discovered that a Google search revealed that “Fab Folio” was the name of a real person in Italy, so I retired the character. I’d like to say that my second choice was “Valerie Flame,” but I can’t find the piece of paper where I wrote that. I bring this up to expand on some points about fake blogs (flogs?).

Sonnet Mail: a breakthrough in gender discourse

This may be the first sonnet I’ve written in fourteen years. It was not expressly for Rebecca MacKinnon’s Valentine’s Day Sonnet Contest, though it’s not too far from her requested themes of “love and blogging.” Instead, it had a more utilitarian purpose. Bob Cox had written a loooong email to a group of a people about the state of blogging, and I wanted to respond to some of the points, and offer a link to my latest piece, yet not bore everybody with a tedious post. Inspired by my recent diet of Leaves of Grass, I started writing, and one rhyme led to another, and this is what I emailed a week ago…

Self-Organizing the Hub of the Universe

To bring order to the universe— at least that part we call the Hub here in Boston, home of the repeat NFL champion New England Patriots and World Series champion Boston Red Sox, Adam Gaffin has organized the Universal Hub. (I’ve only lived here seven years, and live in neighboring Brookline while working in neighboring Cambridge, but one of the first things I learned was that Oliver Wendell Holmes originally dubbed Boston the “hub of the universe.” It’s the hub of my commute, for sure.)

What lies in conversation?

When Jay Rosen proclaimed that in 2004 News Turns from a Lecture to a Conversation” it’s clear that he values conversation. I’m still holding out for a good conversation on his PressThink site, so fortunately for us, Shelley Powers has submitted her own thoughts on conversation. I thought I’d ask some questions about conversations and news.

Tag This!

“Blog This!” the button on your browser’s Google toolbar beckons. You click the button, and see a prompt for name and password. Sign up, and boom! you’re one of 27,000 people a day who create a blog– perhaps most of whom don’t even know it, or may not be sure you wanted to do that.

As I’ve explained, blogs are different things to different people. Rebecca Blood one of those people who is more respected than most, and here’s her recent definition: “The weblog is at once a scrapbook, news filter, chapbook, newsletter, and community.”

Interpersonal Ethics: Why I am a Zephyr Apologist

I’ve been batting back and forth this weekend whether I needed to explain why I am a "Zephyr apologist." I posted on Thursday night by criticizing the Wall Street Journal, on Saturday on her blog Zonkette, and exonerated her again by analyzing Joe Trippi’s comments on the matter.

Late Disclosure, or Late Recognition?

Tonight the Powerline Blog, on a roll from its December triumph as Time magazines “Blog of the Year,” relays this blurb: “Tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal reports the news that has been roiling the blogosphere today: ‘Dean campaign made payments to two bloggers.’ Roiling? Will this roil blogosphere? There have been three trackbacks to Powerline, and two of them have debunked this as truly being news. This will be third, but I promise the most thoroughly written and the most fun.

Personal reaction to the tsunami disaster news

I suppose it is a bit unfair to judge others about their initial response to the tsunami, without posting my own thoughts.

Read Me, Not Them: The Rage Against the Elite and Mainstream Media

I took a brief trip to the mid-nineties last weekend, going to my tenth high school reunion, leafing through some old Wired magazines, and picking up Thomas Frank's 2000 book One Market Under God. A common theme: how did I view the "elites" then and now? Frank hypothesis, which he expanded in one of this year's most informative political books, What's the Matter With Kansas?, has been that American political discourse continues to be defined by a demonization of the elites. This is not very much different from high school, as it turns out. Who the elites are, who gains by painting them as such, and whether they're the same as the "mainstream" are questions we should consider– whenever we encounter someone raging against the media. Here's a little exercise, weighing in at four thousand words.


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