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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Online Audiences and the Paradox of Web Traffic

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Online Audiences and the Paradox of Web Traffic

Dr. Matthew Hindman, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University


Wednesday, March 4, 5:00 pm
Said Business School, Park End Street, OXFORD, OX1 1HP, UNITED KINGDOM
A reception will follow the lecture.
This event is open to the public. If you would like to attend please email your name and affiliation, if any, to:

Many areas of Internet scholarship make strong--and often erroneous--assumptions about patterns of Web traffic. Still, there has been little comprehensive research on how online audiences are distributed, and even less work on how site traffic changes over time.

Using three years of daily Web traffic data, and new models adapted from financial mathematics, this talk examines large-scale variation in Web traffic. These data show that Web traffic is highly heteroskedastic, with smaller sites having orders of magnitude more variation in the relative number of visitors they receive. These consistent patterns allow us to provide reasonable estimates of how likely it is Google will still be the most visited U.S. site a year from now, for example, or the odds that a new site currently ranked 50 overall will break into the top 10. Despite constant churn in online traffic, the audience distribution for both the overall Web and for subcategories of content is extremely stable, limiting the number of prominent outlets.

These results challenge many accepted notions about online life. In particular, the talk will discuss what these traffic patterns mean for the openness the online public sphere.

About Matthew

Matthew Hindman is an assistant professor of political science at Arizona State University. His research interests include American politics, political communication, and (especially) online politics. 


This public lecture is the opening event for a two-day workshop ‘Internet and Democracy: Lessons Learnt and Future Directions’. The lecture and workshop are co-organised by the OII, the Berkman Center and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The Internet and Democracy project is a two-year research effort at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative of the US Department of State. Additional support for the event is being provided by a grant from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (Networks for Web Science, EP/FO/3701/1).

Past Event
Mar 4, 2009
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

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