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Diffusion of sentiments across blogosphere: the case of Georgia

Zakaria Babutsidze
Sciences Po Paris
Open Panel

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to present an analysis of the blogosphere of contemporary Georgia, namely the characteristics of its networks and their implications in terms of speed of information diffusion. We follow the pioneering works of Adamic and Glane (2005) and Blumenthal (2005) who opened a new avenue for analyzing blogging behavior in the United States. In addition to their method of blog-to-blog network analysis, we perform a detailed analysis of bloggers’ posts and their resonances within the network. This allows to track the actual information/sentiment diffusion routs in contrast to blog-to-blog network analysis that aggregates all possible routs. Thus our approach is guaranteed to have a higher predictive power. Our analysis of the Georgian case is based on a unique dataset on Georgian blogs that covers 80% of currently active bloggers in the country. The data has been collected in December 2010 - January 2011 and contains over 1500 blogs. For our comparisons between well-formed societies and societies in transition, we draw on secondary literature on blogging behavior in US. We show that, compared to established democracies, the Georgian blogosphere is more homogeneous, less fragmented into (relatively) disconnected sub-networks. This can be explained by the specificities of transitional societies, namely the stronger impact of opinion leaders and average voter''s less stable preferences over political orientation (e.g. left versus right). As a consequence, the Georgian blogosphere allows for a faster flow of information and sentiments than for instance the blogospheres in the US. This has sharp implications for opinion formation and convergence in sentiments in pre-election periods. It allows for large swings in election results and therefore rises the stakes.