This paper compares the practices of discursive production and participation among top U.S. political blogs on the left, right, and center during the summer of 2008 and, based on qualitative coding of the top 155, finds evidence of an association between ideological affiliation and the technologies, institutions, and practices of participation across political blogs. Sites on the left adopt more participatory technical platforms; are comprised of significantly fewer sole-authored sites; include user blogs; maintain more fluid boundaries between secondary and primary content; include longer narrative and discussion posts; and (among the top half of the blogs in the paper's sample) more often use blogs as platforms for mobilization as well as discursive production.
The variations observed between the left and right wings of the U.S. political blogosphere provide insights into how varied patterns of technological adoption and use within a single society may produce distinct effects on democracy and the public sphere. The study also suggests that the prevailing techniques of domain-based link analysis used to study the political blogosphere to date may have fundamental limitations.
Special thanks are due to Silpa Kovvali for research assistance and data collection, to professors Eszter Hargittai and Henry Farrell for feedback on a previous draft, and to John Kelly and the folks at Morningside Analytics for sharing their list of top blogs.