Getting the scoop: Social networks for news dissemination

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


{Sunbelt International Social Networks Conference XXII}, New Orleans, LA (2002)




The "weblog" is a recent phenomenon, essentially a online journal of an individual's activities, news, and thoughts presented in a public manner on the web. Simple software tools for creating weblogs have allowed for a low barrier to entry, attracting men and women from a broad range of ages and occupations. In addition to creating these ego-websites, webloggers comprise a densely interconnected social network of readership that spans the entire set of nearly 400,000 persons.

This social network facilitates a dissemination of information through the community, allowing stories and news to reach a directed audience in an unmediated fashion. Sometimes particularly resonant news can reach a majority of the population in only a few days. These "memes," or viral information are generally associated with some external web resource and are easily identified by a URL.

We have constructed a system to track memes within the weblog community. As a meme diffuses through social ties, our system documents the time and location for each posting that is observed. Based on these data, webloggers can be categorized by their adoption characteristics, ranging from early- to late-adopters.

The weblog community is a fixed population that is constantly being exposed to new ideas. By associating the social network with the data acquired for memes, we are able to study dissemination in a number of different cases. This breadth of examples is a longitudinal representation of how a community reacts to the spread of information. In this paper we explore network characteristics of the weblog community, focusing on personal adoption behavior and classifying memes based on their diffusion attributes.