January 8, 2004 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Googlearchy: How a few heavily-linked sites dominate politics on the Web. [pdf file] Political communities exhibit winner-take-all properties. Surprising?
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy (3 comments total)
It doesn't seem surprising really, either in RL, or with regard to the Internet. At the beginning they cite Barbarasi and other's work on various inverse power law characteristics of the Internet as a whole. They do note at the beginning that these laws may not apply to the subset of political sites; and then find that they do.

I think their real point is that this distribution works with Google's page-rank search, to reinforce access to already large political sites and to ignore smaller ones. This can have (they say) 'anti-democratic' effects, generating an inverse power law distribution of political/democratic information and choice. But don't we have this anyway in RL, with a few large parties and many small ones (see e.g. the California recall)? They also have some thesis about how the Web was orginally seen as a democratic medium, and is now found to be not, and rather to be serving the interests of elites; but this has been the fate of a number of communication technologies, e.g. the telegraph.

Maybe we need to think less about how to develop/fix technologies to support existing 'democracy' (which IMHO is often a mask of meritocracy and equality covering a structures of privilege and inequality), and to start thinking about how new forms of democracy may be built on new technologies. Maybe the problem is not technology, but the way we think of democracy.
posted by carter at 7:53 AM on January 8, 2004

Um, can we stop beating a dead horse? Pretty please?
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:47 AM on January 8, 2004

HTML document.
posted by LukeyBoy at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2004

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