Harvard discovers the hyperlink:
At the moment I will not address the merits of the criticisms, but focus instead on the interesting diffusion process that followed from the initial criticism from Coburn. Each day it was picked up by another few blogs. A quote from John Stossel provides a sense of the tone of the postings: “This summer’s town hall meetings made many congressmen and senators uncomfortable. No worries. The sycophants they fund have used your tax money to fund a study that advises politicians how they can avoid seeing you altogether.” Initially, I would infer, the first few blogs must have been on some distribution list from Coburn’s office (i.e., they weren’t just watching his website) because there were quotations from materials from Coburn that were not on his website. Thereafter you could see how different blogs picked up on the story, typically quoting or copying from another blog. So what one sees is a signal propagation process through the blogs. And as the signal propagates it evolves. Thus, for example, Stossel quotes from the Heritage blog, but then adds his distinct emphasis. The link and copying structure reflects the attention each blogger is paying to other blogs, however one would guess that each blog has a different but overlapping audience.
So the lesson here is that bloggers communicate with other people, including fellow bloggers.
This has to be the ultimate example of “I need a study to tell me this?” Though as Don writes:
Actually, it is quite flattering. I just love how a blogger in Poca, West Virginia, with a few thousand hits a day is placed on par with Sean Hannity, who reaches 10 million listeners. There is something very American — and very strange — about that.
Don adds, “Heaven help us if Harvard ever discovers Twitter.”
Heh. Maybe we can give them a head-start if they’re following blogs linking to their breakthrough study.