The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is preparing to release a series of working papers and research results based on our three-year study of the Russian Internet. This research is generously supported by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
We welcome feedback on these materials. Comments are welcome on the Internet & Democracy blog or can be sent directly to the authors. We will be releasing a variety of different material over the coming months so please stay tuned.
Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere
Public discourse in the Russian blogosphere: Mapping RuNet Politics and Mobilization
Mapping Russian Twitter
Salience vs. Commitment: Dynamics of Political Hashtags in Russian Twitter
April 10, 2012
Social media sites like Twitter enable users to engage in the spread of contagious phenomena: everything from information and rumors to social movements and virally marketed products. In particular, Twitter has been observed to function as a platform for political discourse, allowing political movements to spread their message and engage supporters, and also as a platform for information diffusion, allowing everyone from mass media to citizens to reach a wide audience with a critical piece of news. Previous work suggests that different contagious phenomena will display distinct propagation dynamics, and in particular that news will spread differently through a population than other phenomena. We leverage this theory to construct a system for classifying contagious phenomena based on the properties of their propagation dynamics, and apply our system to a dataset of news-related and political hashtags diffusing through the population of Russian users of Twitter. Our results show that news-related hashtags have distinctive propagation dynamics, but that political hashtags have many different dynamic signatures.
Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia’s Media Ecology
Applying a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, we investigate whether Russian blogs represent an alternative public sphere distinct from web-based Russian government information sources and the mainstream media. Based on data collected over a one-year period (December 2010 through December 2011) from thousands of Russian political blogs and other media sources, we compare the cosine similarity of the text from blogs, mainstream media, major TV channels, and official government websites. We find that, when discussing a selected set of major political and news topics popular during the year, blogs are consistently the least similar to government sources compared to TV and the mainstream media. We also find that the text of mainstream media outlets in Russia (primarily traditional and web-native newspapers) are more similar to government sources than one would expect given the greater editorial and financial independence of those media outlets, at least compared to largely state-controlled national TV stations. We conclude that blogs provide an alternative public sphere: a space for civic discussion and organization that differs significantly from that provided by the mainstream media, TV, and government.
Media Cloud: A tool and automated method for identifying agendas in blogs and mainstream media
Comparing political issue salience and dynamics in Russian Twitter and the Blogosphere
We identify and then track over one year the popularity of a series of pro-government, oppositional and big news stories occurring between March 2010 and March 2011.