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Microsoft Developing News Sorting Based On Political Bias 234

wiredog writes "The Washington Post is reporting that Microsoft is developing a program that classifies news stories according to whether liberal or conservative bloggers are linking to them and also measures the 'emotional intensity' based on the frequency of keywords in the blog posts." If you would like to jump right to the tool you can check out "Blews" on the Microsoft site.
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Microsoft Developing News Sorting Based On Political Bias

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  • by Justabit ( 651314 ) <Cash2You@[ ]pond.net.au ['big' in gap]> on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:23PM (#22756730)
    Microsoft is the best software maker in the world! ..and now to Jeff for the weather..
  • Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by calebt3 ( 1098475 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:23PM (#22756736)
    Because we all know that the most effective way to be informed is by only talking with and listening to people you already agree with. /sarcasm
    • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:30PM (#22756782)
      Oh come on, where's your engineer's curiosity? This isn't to actually use, it's just a cool technoloogy. Come on admit it, even microsoft can throw together some pretty neat stuff. Besides a lot of people like reading bloggers or watching news relevant to their ideology's interests. For example my parents can't stand CNN because of a percieved liberal bias, so they only watch FOX news. yeah they already agree with everything said but it's still a news source that reports current events and they'd rather get current events from a conservative spin.
      • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:42PM (#22756854)
        It's interesting to read the local newspapers of the different parts of the world (LA Times, California, West Coast), (Toronto Star, Canada), (New York Times, New York, East Coast).

        The LA Times always seems to have these stories with a rich person/poor people theme (gentrification/regeneration of downtown creates homes for wealthy people, but displaces the Mexican community, another story is high school with swimming pool won't let local kids use it during summer holidays). The Toronto Star seems to have these stories where the local politicians are always present when some Hell's Angels den is being busted (even though it was already vacant for months). Scottish newspapers (Edinburgh News,Evening Express) alway seem to have stories about travellers blocking up road lay-bys, park-and-ride zones and city parks. English newspapers alway seem to have stories about people being arrested and jailed for tackling burglars, or anyone refusing to pay their council tax out of poverty gets thrown into jail, while the burglars get hours of commmunity service (Tabloids).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by moosesocks ( 264553 )
          Indeed. Local news has a frighteningly powerful impact upon local culture (at least for a certain.... and typically extremely vocal segment of the population).

          The ones that always surprise me, however, are the British tabloids. They're not quite (nearly( as bad as American tabloids, and are therefore taken quite seriously by some, which is troubling to say the least. The Sun, and The Scottish Daily Mail come to mind as being two such papers.

          Move a step up to papers like The Guardian and The Times, and jo
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hedwards ( 940851 )

            The ones that always surprise me, however, are the British tabloids. They're not quite (nearly( as bad as American tabloids, and are therefore taken quite seriously by some, which is troubling to say the least. The Sun, and The Scottish Daily Mail come to mind as being two such papers.

            Have you ever been to America? There are more than a few people here that do give our tabloids that level of attention and contemplation. Really it's an embarrassment.

            Probably the only tabloid I've ever read was the Weekly World News, and that one was sufficiently far from anything that resembled reality, that you'd have to be pretty screwed up to believe any of its articles to be factual. But it was a pretty good read and usually hilarious.

            OTOH, that explains all the lawsuits I've heard about recently tar

          • Re:Perfect... (Score:4, Informative)

            by utopianfiat ( 774016 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @11:56PM (#22757736) Journal
            > The Sun

            Which, by the way, along with Fox News and the brand-new european front Sky News are all part of the Murdoch Empire.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by TapeCutter ( 624760 )
              I disagree strongly with Murdoch's world view but I give him credit for openly admitting he pushes that view through his papers. People who swallow the crap he dishes up are either like minded or only have themselves to blame. IMHO Google news is one of the best aggragator's, if reading two opposing papers from (say) Isreal and the Arab world you will notice a difference in factual reporting of an event. This doesn't mean either is lying, but each paper is definitely selective in the detail they report.

              A
      • Oh come on. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnutoo ( 1154137 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:46PM (#22756876) Journal

        This is a substitute for analysis like a big mac is a substitute for food. The world is far more intersting than a three column spreadsheet and there are always more than two ways to look at any issue. Trusting Microsoft's choice of events and opinions is a sure way to remain ignorant and be guided like sheep to the traditional media slaughter [slashdot.org].

        Google does a much better job by scraping titles and sentences coherently. Especially important is their people involved feedback. Trying to force all of that into "Democrat" and "Republican" is worse than useless, it's misleading and that's why Google never did it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Don't knock the Big Mac. The Economist has been leveraging it [wikipedia.org] for years as an economic oracle, and everybody tries to be on their front cover, even Britney Spears. So who are you to contradict them?
        • Re:Oh come on. (Score:5, Informative)

          by aldousd666 ( 640240 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @10:14PM (#22757332) Journal
          You're not trusting microsoft's anything. The people who write this code are experts in their respective fields, who so happen to be on a microsoft payroll. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer didn't get together over a lunch and write a list of what they decree to be republican or democrat. The shareholders don't vote on what should be included in which column. This is not representative of microsoft, just paid for and owned by microsoft. True making them red or blue might be a silly squeeze, but the fact is that the readers will identify with that sort of sentiment. Look at the Red State/Blue State maps that everyone makes and looks at on TV. Anyway, it's just an experimental thingy, like any other. Deserves the same respect any other experiment does, even if you don't go try to formulate a business model based on its findings.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by moosesocks ( 264553 )
          You're missing the point. I don't think this was ever intended to be a serious tool for political discourse, but rather an interesting exercise in applying some of the technologies being developed by Microsoft's research lab.

          It's a cool technology demo, and perhaps does a nice job of gathering and visualizing a two-dimensional dataset. This was most likely thrown together in a few afternoons as a result of a conversation held over lunch one day that began with "Wouldn't it be neat if we...."

          Similarly, Ope
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        This is the most interesting and !new! ideas I've seen out of Redmond in a long time. Sadly, that means it's probably an engineer's side project that got mentioned in a meeting and swiped....Or it was designed to keep track of the linux wackos*, and they changed it to watch politics to make it newsworthy.

        -ellie

        * (Myself included.)
        • It doesn't seem very new or interesting to me. But then I don't think politics really fit into the "liberal"/"conservative" thing.

          I thought something like The Circle[1] would work much better for something like this. It's postings were sorted by a trust based system, so the more you trusted someone, the closer to the top their posts would appear, and you could rate each post as well. Supposedly Advogato's [advogato.org] site uses it to, but there membership is closed, so I haven't seen it in action. Their Trust Metric [advogato.org]

      • Is to let people select information according to their predisposed bias and then by gentle steps migrate them to a new world view by delivering content that's enough in the desired direction to be interesting but not enough to be annoying. It's deliberate programming and should be avoided. I know the meme is trite, but it's true: In Microsoft Russia, computers program you!

        If you're going to deliberately program your mind, deliberately do it for your own ends not someone else's.

        ... going to practice som

        • When you preview a comment lately, it replaces your changed subject with RE: Parent. in the form.

          If you just change the subject and submit it works like it's supposed to. You just can no longer preview your comment with the subject intact.

          That's why so many thread are re: parent subject. lately.

      • ``For example my parents can't stand CNN because of a percieved liberal bias, so they only watch FOX news.''

        That would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
      • I'm confused how this is neat technology, given that this will only work if you align someone to a two dimensional political spectrum. In other words, the core premise is pretty stupid.

        I wonder how many bloggers will enjoy being pigeon-holed into being a "liberal" because they support same-sex marriage, or how many will be called "right-wing" or "conservative" because they support gun ownership? For that matter, what's Microsoft going to do when they find a blogger who's a same-sex supporting gun owner? BSO
    • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dice ( 109560 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:31PM (#22756792)
      I would find it much more interesting to read the opposing viewpoint. I already know what mine is.
      • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:40PM (#22756846)
        I know what my viewpoint is. I also know what the opposing viewpoint is. Why would I read news from the opposing viewpoint when it just ticks me off?
        • I dared a conservative at work to listen to NPR for a few days since he listens to Rush, Hanity, and Ingram on AM radio.

          Meanwhile I can not get the democrats to listen to right wing radio either. Of course I will add these radio personalities accuse McCain of being a socialist liberal.

          Its just not going to happen.
          • by Omestes ( 471991 )
            The various wings of the radio don't really equal an opinion, they equal a sensationalist lunatic fringe based on marketing. If I told a bunch of liberals to listen to Bill O'Reilly they would learn nothing of conservatism, but they would learn to HATE conservatives because he really is an asshat who represents no-one. I can say the same of telling conservatives to read the Nation, you learn no valid points of view, only group think.

            Arguments are necessary for understanding, the sources mentioned (here at
            • Re:Perfect... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @11:40PM (#22757690) Journal

              The various wings of the radio don't really equal an opinion, they equal a sensationalist lunatic fringe based on marketing. If I told a bunch of liberals to listen to Bill O'Reilly they would learn nothing of conservatism, but they would learn to HATE conservatives because he really is an asshat who represents no-one. I can say the same of telling conservatives to read the Nation, you learn no valid points of view, only group think.

              The odd fact is that it is the liberals who proclaim to speak in the name of reason and the conservatives that proclaim to speak in the name of religion-based morality. While the reality is that the best publication from which to get a conservative view point is Reason(tm) and the best publication from which to get a liberal view point is the New Testament. The "pundits" on both sides no longer discuss ideas. They both attack personalities.

              "Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." -Eleanor Roosevelt

            • Is there any rational conservative who things Rush is actually sane?

              I think Rush is actually sane. It makes perfect sense when you realize he's an entertainer, not a commentator. However, I'm not really a conservative.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rpillala ( 583965 )

          Because sometimes, regardless of which side you favor, your side is lying about something.

      • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by psychodelicacy ( 1170611 ) <bstcbn@gmail.com> on Friday March 14, 2008 @09:27PM (#22757104)
        And this tool would allow you to do that, right? Seems like it could be very useful to those of us who want to know how the other side thinks - whatever that "other side" is. Of course, it would also handily package up the news for those who only want to hear from their own side, but at least it might get them reading more than one source. It's safe to stick to, say, Fox or CNN if you know that's what you like to hear, but if someone were to give you a list of other sites that would probably also suit your perspective it might encourage you to branch out a little more.
        • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday March 14, 2008 @10:52PM (#22757508) Journal

          I think it was Chris Rock who said it best:

          The whole country's got a fucked up mentality. We all got a gang mentality. Republicans are fucking idiots. Democrats are fucking idiots. Conservatives are idiots and liberals are idiots.

          Anyone who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a fucking fool. Everybody, nah, nah, nah, everybody is so busy wanting to be down with a gang! I'm a conservative! I'm a liberal! I'm a conservative! It's bullshit!

          Be a fucking person. Listen. Let it swirl around your head. Then form your opinion.

          No normal decent person is one thing. OK!?! I got some shit I'm conservative about, I got some shit I'm liberal about. Crime - I'm conservative. Prostitution - I'm liberal.

          Keep in mind, this was a comedy show, and the delivery was actually pretty hilarious. But I think it applies.

          Sorting all news into one thing or another is just an extension of this mentality, and it is harmful. Would you tolerate it if they sorted it into Black News and White News? Or into News for Women, and News for Men? Put the gardening and housekeeping on News for Women, and the tech and business stuff on News for Men...

      • But will you get to decide, or will you be presented with a viewpoint you expected to believe in ?

    • People on the both sides believe what they believe and self select evidence that fits their world view, and rejects any evidence to the contrary as lies and propaganda. The purpose of creating or reading a political blog is to get a feeling of belonging with other people agreeing with what you believe.

      Thats why I love slashdot. There are a million idiots, trolls, and very smart people that will challenge anything I say on any topic under the sun. No sacred cows. minimal censorship.
    • Re:Perfect... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CaptKilljoy ( 687808 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:53PM (#22756930)
      >Because we all know that the most effective way to be informed is by only talking with and listening to people you already agree with. /sarcasm

      And yet you're here on Slashdot?
      • Because we all know that the most effective way to be informed is by only talking with and listening to people you already agree with. /sarcasm

        And yet you're here on Slashdot?

        *AHEM* hello, vim vs emacs? Just because many people here don't agree with Microsoft and hate Bush and the RIAA, doesn't mean everybody here has the same viewpoint on everything - including Microsoft, Bush and the RIAA.

        Slashdot is precisely good because people often present opposing points of view in an insightful way. Debating is one

    • Re:Perfect... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Loke the Dog ( 1054294 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @09:21PM (#22757080)
      Maybe I'm misunderstanding this, but I don't see where it says this would only give you liberal opinions if you read the liberal-tagged news. On the contrary, it will give you what other liberals blog about, and that is probably more often than not things that they do not agree with.

      Besides, it does say it offers the option to see things "from the other side" by giving you the same story but with the oposite tag, and that could be very useful.
    • "Because we all know that the most effective way to be informed is by only talking with and listening to people you already agree with. /sarcasm"

      Whats really ironic is you posted this on slashdot.

    • You see, they're also developing a parallel technology for detecting Microsoft bias in an article by counting the number of paperclips linking to it. Linux bias by herring-bone count is expected to be announced shortly.
  • Not exactly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by boarder8925 ( 714555 ) <thegreentrilby@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:24PM (#22756748) Homepage

    BLEWS also offers a "see the view from the other side" functionality, enabling a reader to compare different views on the same story from different sides of the political spectrum.
    In reality, most people will use this tool as a quick way to avoid articles they don't want to read. "Opposing/Differing viewpoint? Screw that, moving on!"
    • exactly... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnutoo ( 1154137 )

      This is reinforcing old patterns by selective presentation of opinions, just like traditional media [slashdot.org]. Such simplification looks stale when you look around for yourself because no real issue can be pie charted so easily. Trying to stuff every issue into a single page with three columns and an emotion depth is almost as dumb as trying to wrap the world up into a 15 minute CNN loop. It can only give an illusion of knowing something to the most ignorant and opinionated of people.

    • >> quick way to avoid articles they don't want to read

      If anything, this broadens one's political horizon by letting them see what the nutcases on the opposite side think, with the added benefit of seeing what the other side REALLY cares about.
    • Re:Not exactly... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:58PM (#22756954)
      Yeah, a lot of people will talk about the 'net as if it's this great thing that gets all kinds of different people together for dialogue and understanding, but in reality it just makes it easier for people with fucked up ideas and values to find each other and convince each other that they are right and everyone else is wrong. It just leads to even more polarization. This MS thing is just a symptom of that.

      And I don't try to pretend that I'm not affected by this phenomena either. The only forums I frequent are technocrat, gentoo otw and here. So it becomes too easy to believe that my views are mainstream and 100% correct. But sometimes I have a moment of clarity and realize that it is only because I'm mostly talking to people with the same views (except for those KDE fuckers) and that they are just reinforcing my predispositions. A good place to go for a reality check is one of those hardcore Christian forums, where the kind of people that we call nutcases hang out, and then realize that we are just as nutty to them as they are to us.
  • by gnutoo ( 1154137 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:25PM (#22756752) Journal

    This new project highlights the absurdity of our two party system and past media inadequacies. The whole world is reduced to two schools of thought "conservative" and "liberal" with an additional dimension for "emotion". This is perfect for the manufactured consent way of doing things where issues are displayed without depth and championed by more or less annoying, emotional "experts". Rational thought is completely cut off, because anything outside of the "mainstream" represented by the extremes is automatically smeared as the unworkable product of starry eyed idealists or terrorists. So, the complexity of the real world is eliminated and policy is made by those controlling the media. The correct opinion for the good little sheeple will be found right in the middle of the pretty, Vista style chart.

    No thanks, Microsoft, I'll keep reading blogs and thinking for myself. MSNBC never showed me where the good ones were and I doubt they will in the future. You can't run an honest search engine [slashdot.org], so there's no way in hell I'll trust your company to tell me how to vote.

    • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:47PM (#22756888) Homepage Journal
      Actually, the whole world seems to have reduced us to one school of thought. Most non-US citizens seem to have a hard time telling our two parties apart. The common analogy I hear from British friends is that the Republicans are exactly like the Tories, and the Democrats are almost exactly like the Tories.

      And for as much as you don't like the two party system, voting in this country is pretty linear -- you get to choose exactly one candidate for each job, and all those jobs are tied to geographic regions only. Nobody's come up with a two-dimensional model of government, but I could imagine just how interesting that would be.

      The House of Representatives would have to be sliced up into issues, instead of geographic regions. You'd vote for dozens of different representatives: a Transportation candidate, a Ways and Means candidate, an Ethics candidate, a Defense candidate, and so on. That way you wouldn't have to worry if your Defense candidate was pro-life or pro-choice, because they'd never cast a vote on the subject. It'd force a complete change how bills get written: they'd have to be categorized, shopped around differently, it'd actually be quite refreshing.

      (Oh, God, now I'm refactoring Congress! Somebody help me get Martin Fowler out of my head!!!)

      • but you won't find those opinions reflected in broadcast news. Try fitting this [stallman.org] or this [technocrat.net] into the "just like the tories" box. Want to bet neither of those two bloggers ever show up in blews? Blews, like broadcast media before it, represents nothing but the will of it's corporate masters. Readers are spoon fed shallow "stories" and false choices that drive public policy in favor of those pulling the strings.

      • by Mr2001 ( 90979 )

        And for as much as you don't like the two party system, voting in this country is pretty linear -- you get to choose exactly one candidate for each job, and all those jobs are tied to geographic regions only.

        That's exactly why we have a two-party system, it's Duverger's Law [wikipedia.org]:

        A two-party system often develops spontaneously from the single-member district plurality voting system (SMDP), in which legislative seats are awarded to the candidate with a plurality of the total votes within his or her constituency, rather than apportioning seats to each party based on the total votes gained in the entire set of constituencies. This trend develops out of the inherent qualities of the SMDP system that discourage the development of third parties and reward the two major parties.

        • by sowth ( 748135 )

          I don't know about that. I would think a two candidate system would be the more appropriate choice. Two political parties try to cram all possible vewpoints into two entities. It doesn't work that way. Better to find a reasonable leader who will try to balance the things one must code into law to keep civilized harmony while reducting the restrictions on people's rights and resonable activity.

          • by Mr2001 ( 90979 )
            Why limit yourself to only two candidates?

            I didn't say the two-party system was a good thing, only that it's a natural consequence of the voting system we use. The two-party system sucks and we should put an end to it, but that will mean switching to proportional representation, or at least another way to run the elections in each district (e.g. approval voting or ranked choice voting).
      • by mmkkbb ( 816035 )
        you get to choose exactly one candidate for each job

        Not necessarily true. City and town council elections can be handled so that you can vote for n out of n+m candidates, for example.
    • by Plugh ( 27537 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @10:06PM (#22757280) Homepage

      Hear, hear to the parent. "Conservative" and "Liberal" have come more and more to mean two sides of the same Remocrat/Depublican coin.
      They're both wealth-destroying Socialists. They're both warmongering Fascists.

      And leave it to Microsoft to place a flawed concept at the very center of the design. "Click the Red Elephant of you listen to Rush, or the Blue Donkey if you listen to Air America"

      Yes... just one more reason I'm an anarcocapitalist [amazon.com].
    • Peoples views do not always fit neatly into either the "conservative," "liberal" or "moderate" categories. For example, back in the mid-1960s, I vaguely remember when the ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential candidate running against Lyndon B. Johnson. Many of Barry Goldwater's key ideas, back then, were almost exactly the opposite of what Republican George W. Bush now stands for. If I remember correctly, Barry Goldwater strongly believed in respecting the constitutional lim

    • This is perfect for the manufactured consent way of doing things where issues are displayed without depth and championed by more or less annoying, emotional "experts". Rational thought is completely cut off, because anything outside of the "mainstream" represented by the extremes is automatically smeared as the unworkable product of starry eyed idealists or terrorists. [...] No thanks, Microsoft, I'll keep reading blogs and thinking for myself.

      I agree this is not leading anywhere good, and thought y

  • by StonedYoda47 ( 732257 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:33PM (#22756806)
    Come on, that's just too obvious a joke for /.
  • Like sorting by geek bias.
  • Moderate as flamebait any non-political satire site that uses the terms 'moonbat' or 'wingnut' or other words, as they evolve, in the main article more than once.

    Punishing people by calling them a troll for repeatedly referring to everyone they even remotely disagree with would help the public discourse. There are wingnuts, like the Phelps clan, but the majority of Evangelical Christians are not wingnuts. By the same token, many of the professional left-wing activist groups like Code Pink are worthy of bein
  • Hmmmm... bloggers are defined as "liberal" or "conservative", depending on the kind of things they say, yes? Then, Microsoft want to classify the things they say, based on what kind of bloggers they are?

    Can you say "circular"? Sure. I knew you could.
  • Doesn't NBC already have a patent on this?

    Seriously though, every news outlet in the world has been doing this since before Gutenberg was born. Even Microsoft's idea to tailor it to each user dynamically isn't new. That's been done towards anyone who could have you executed since pre-historic days. Didn't they just rule that making an old idea available over the Internet was not sufficient to receive a patent?
  • I can guarantee there are going to be some false positives in links to blogs about people loving bush
  • Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locklin ( 1074657 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @09:33PM (#22757136) Homepage
    Great, software that will make people more close minded, less informed, and just generally less intelligent. Oh wait, did you say it came from Microsoft?
  • The difference is, they're doing something with it.
  • I have only one question.

    Can it also give me news stories with no bias?

    Ah well. It was worth a shot.
  • Sorting news as "liberal" or "conservative"... because there isn't already enough false dichotomization of people's views in modern politics. As long as this keeps up, we're ideologically locking ourselves into a two-party system.
  • In other news, the democrats, with the inventor of the Internet, developed a system that automatically makes any republican text display in white on a white background, so that it is impossible to read.

    Let's test this software:

    In a meeting today, Bush said, "




    ."

    See, the system is working.

  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:10AM (#22757778) Homepage Journal
    I thought about this for a few minutes but couldn't come up with any possible reason why I'd want to have Microsoft "filter" my news for me.

    I'd be more interested in what they filtered out...

  • Can you imagine if we had this? Half of us would still be thinking Saddam Hussein caused 9/11.
  • I guess this means that we can expect some form of "Blews" Screen of Death
  • I'm reminded of the New Yorker cartoon "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." [wikipedia.org]

    This program apparently scans the blogosphere... but I wonder what that is. Is that the web? If I just have a page that expresses an opinion, is it counted as a blog, or do I have to register it somewhere as a blog? Is an RSS feed required at a site, or on the page, to be a blog? Does the word blog have to appear in the header or are "essays" counted? And if I have more than one domain name, how is that counted? Does the text have to be different in two cases in order to be counted as two opinions? How does one distinguish two distinct people who merely word things like an advocacy group told them from one person who owns two (or fifty or a thousand) sites and puts the same text on all of them? Is the site careful to understand the difference between quotation and inclusion for critique? How much are they investing in tools that allow people to detect and correct misclassification or is this "all in good fun" and "for entertainment only"?

    Perhaps the answers to these are documented, but that almost doesn't matter. The point is that however they're answered, the answer is arbitrarily chosen and are not The Truth no matter how they are chosen.

    In the olden days, everyone had an opinion on things, but the opinions were distributed, and people were forced to engage each other interactively in order to discover other opinions. They might agree or disagree, but it was the conversation that caused them to grow and learn. In the new world, we can count how many total opinions there are, and avoid ever talking to someone who disagrees. This takes the dialog and growth part out of the equation. At that point, what difference does it make how many people agree or disagree, since we'll just be measuring the efficiency of the cloning process, not the validity of ideas.

    "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." --Mark Twain [twainquotes.com]

  • OK, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max Threshold ( 540114 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:56AM (#22758704)
    How do they classify the bloggers as "liberal" or "conservative"? Self-identification? And is the data even meaningful with such a simple dichotomy? What about radical Jeffersonians? Anarcho-socialists? People who still vote for Nader?

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