Exploring Blogger Bias

Yesterday on a mailing list I’m a member of, someone pointed to Kaye D. Sweetser’s article, Blog bias: Reports, inferences, and judgments of credentialed bloggers at the 2004 nominating conventions. Since I was one of those credentialed bloggers, I was particularly interested what the article had to say. I contacted Kaye and got the longer version of her article.

In her research, she had people code each sentence in the blogs written as part of the convention coverage into three basic types; reports, inferences and judgments. Each of these were further broken down into whether the reports were attributed or not, whether the inferences were labeled or not, and whether the judgments were favorable or unfavorable, and whether they were attributed or not. She did further analysis on the role of gender in the coverage as well as the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.

The results were about as I would have expected. Traditional media has a higher percentage of ‘reports’, approximately twice the percentage that bloggers use. Given that many traditional journalists are called ‘reporters’ and that ‘traditional media coverage holds objective reporting sacrosanct’, this isn’t surprising. Yet even for the bloggers at the conventions, the most common form of sentence was the report.

I went to the convention with no pretense of being a reporter. I wore my bias on my sleeve and in the form of buttons and stickers on my shirt. Since that experience, I have blogged many events. I have not shied away from expressing my biases and try to be as up front as I can be about what underlies these biases.

In light of this, I wonder how I compared with the other bloggers who were credentialed in 2004. Did I use more reporting or judgments than other bloggers at the time? How has my writing changed over the years? How has the writing of other bloggers changed? What will the blogging at the 2008 conventions be like? Beyond the political realm, how does this apply to other bloggers?

The academic would say that this report, and these questions illustrate the need for further research. I agree. It also provides material for those hoping to blog the 2008 conventions should think about as they prepare to cover them.

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Smiles in Second Life

“You don’t realize that avatars don’t usually smile until someone offers you one.” That is what Joni Rich said to me as she explained the “Colgate Smile” campaign in Second Life. It presents a much different view of the campaign than was described in this Massively entry. Perhaps, that is because Joni and her company is approaching things from a different perspective reflecting changes going on in marketing as well as one of the key components of what makes Second Life more than just a more immersive website.

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Wordless Wednesday

Angels waiting patiently., originally uploaded by Aldon.

The Christmas Letter

The other day, I received an email from a fellow blogger asking me how I was doing. I didn’t reply, because it was too hard. You see, right now, life sucks, but I’m still managing to find joy around the edges. So this blog post will try to explain a little bit of what is going on, as my Christmas Letter to you.

Don’t you hate those Christmas letters that you get every year? Tom’s work is greatly fulfilling. He was named employee of the year for the third time. As a reward, Tom and Sue were given a trip to some exotic place. Dick and Jane are doing wonderfully in college. Dick is following his father’s footsteps and pursuing a career in whatever. With the kids off in college, Sue has more time to pursue her life long passion as some obscure type of artist, a passion she rediscovered on her trip to the exotic place. It is turning into a lucrative second career for her.

Well, here’s my letter;

I’m still stuck in no where’s land between a career as an IT executive on Wall Street, a career I can’t seem to find my way back to, and a career doing some sort of writing and digital social media, a career I can’t seem to define yet. I’ve landed a few small gigs here and there, which, between that and the retirement account, has kept us from going hungry. I am very thankful for those jobs. However, the lucrative prospects and the fulfilling prospects all seem to fall apart at the last moment, and none of the prospects have been both lucrative and fulfilling.

The worst of Kim’s Lyme disease appears to be gone. She managed to work part time throughout much of 2007 and is hoping to resume full time work in 2008. She still gets fatigued very easily. The new job doesn’t pay much, but has good health care benefits, which is one of our top concerns right now.

We put the house on the market in February. We had potential buyers come along during the summer, but back out a few weeks before the closing. The deposit money that they put down is now tied up in a lawsuit as they try to get it back claiming that the contract on the house was never fully agreed upon. The best offers we’ve gotten have been less than 75% of the appraised price from when we refinanced and don’t even cover the debt we have on the house. With that, we are expecting the banks to foreclose on the house early in 2008 and we will file for bankruptcy.

The girls are doing well, considering the teenage angst they are going through and all the stress that our situation adds upon that. I’ll respect their privacy and spare everyone the details.

Now, it is Christmas Eve. We’ve all been fighting colds. It seems that with all the stress, I just can’t shake my colds, and Kim’s colds seem to linger on after her Lyme disease. I have not watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” this year. I’m not sure if I could take it. It feels a little too close to home. No, you do not need to pray the Clarence will come and dissuade me from doing something rash, but prayers that things might turn around in the coming year would be appreciated.

At church, Kim helped with the pageant. Fiona played the part of a little angel. She appeared to enjoy herself greatly. I sat in the pew and thought back to when Miranda was that age. I remember one Christmas Eve, in the midst of my divorce, when I went to Christmas Eve mass. I sat in the pew, and looked at people who had been close friends for so many years. They all seemed so happy, and I was so miserable. I fled, in a panic and managed to safely find my way home, where I took an Ativan and spoke with friends online that were going through similar struggles.

Yet this evening, in spite of all my troubles, there wasn’t panic or misery. Yes, it hurts horribly that I have not been able to provide Fiona with the same sort of privileges that I provided Mairead and Miranda when they were her age. It hurts horribly that the older ones have had to give up things that matter to them and that I don’t know how I will pay for college for them. It hurts, that to borrow the phrase from the candidate that I’m supporting in the 2008 Presidential election, I’m failing that great moral test, “To give my children a better future than I received.” Yet it was Christmas, and the irrepressible joy of the season came through, and perhaps that is another part of the great moral test, to find joy in happiness amidst hardship.

One online community that I’m part of is a group of psychotherapists. One time, a member of the group made a comment about helping people “rediscover their full capacity for joy.” That is a noble task, and in many ways captures the Christmas experience. Despite all the hardships, unemployment, illness, impending financial collapse, or a trip to Bethlehem and a birth in a manger, the overwhelming joy of Christmas has the potential to help anyone rediscover their full capacity for joy.

So, whether you know this Christmas joy by its name in the Christian tradition, or in other traditions, may you rediscover your full capacity for joy, even when life sucks.

Merry Christmas.

SL Trading and Other News

Over the past week two Second Life stocks have reached all time highs, at least since I’ve been gathering information. RIS traded at 250 L$. It has since dropped down into its normal range. Prior to that, its highest value had been 100 L$. This appears to be more of an anomaly than a significant event. Resistance for RIS, based on standard deviations is at 138 L$.

VSE broke through its barrier of .50 L$ for the first time, trading up to .52 L$, it’s new resistance level. Since then, shares have traded at the bid price of .48 L$, but the asking price remains .52 L$.

ATG, QCL and WPM traded at both new highs and new lows over the past week. This isn’t too surprising for ATG or WPM as they are relatively new issues. It is more significant for QCL which has been listed since 11/15/07. At present, QCL’s bid is higher than its last low price, and its ask is close to the high end of its range. Some of this may be due to low volume.

Seven stocks hit new lows during the week, but have bounced back from these lows. These include BDVR, LCA, AVC, BMG, BNF, DFC, and IBF. It has been a good week to have bottom fishing bids in.

In other Second Life news, Giulio Perhaps has a great blog post up about his OpenSim future – wishlist. In it, he talks about Central Grid and particularly his thoughts about the role of currency in virtual worlds. This is an area that deserves a lot more attention, on many levels and if it weren’t Christmas Eve with a lot of other things to focus on, I would write a longer article on some of the issues that this raises. Maybe after the holidays

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