Which way up? (2009)

Full title: Which way up? Reading and drawing maps of the blogosphere

Journal article for ejournalist, Ignite!08 conference special issue


Mapping the physical world, the arrangement of continents and oceans, cities and villages, mountains and deserts, while not without its own contentious aspects, can at least draw upon centuries of previous work in cartography and discovery. To map virtual spaces is another challenge altogether. Are cartographic conventions applicable to depictions of the blogosphere, or the internet in general? Is a more mathematical approach required to even start to make sense of the shape of the blogosphere, to understand the network created by and between blogs?

With my research comparing information flows in the Australian and French political blogs, visualising the data obtained is important as it can demonstrate the spread of ideas and topics across blogs. However, how best to depict the flows, links, and the spaces between is still unclear. Is network theory and systems of hubs and nodes more relevant than mass communication theories to the research at hand, influencing the nature of any map produced? Is it even a good idea to try and apply boundaries like ‘Australian’ and ‘French’ to parts of a map that does not reflect international borders or the Mercator projection?

While drawing upon some of my work-in-progress, this paper will also evaluate previous maps of the blogosphere and approaches to depicting networks of blogs. As such, the paper will provide a greater awareness of the tools available and the strengths and limitations of mapping methodologies, helping to shape the direction of my research in a field still very much under development.


Citation: Highfield, T. (2009). Which way up? Reading and drawing maps of the blogosphere. ejournalist, 9(1), pp. 99-114.