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June 04, 2003

LEFT AND RIGHT....Over at The Volokh Conspiracy — which really needs to get in touch with N.Z. Bear and give him their new URL — David Post points to this network map of political blogs that clusters them along the usual left-right axis. Hesiod will be happy to see that he is the leftiest of the lefties, at least among the group included in the map.

As I recall, Mac Diva was searching Diogones-like for a true centrist a while back, and if this map is to believed there are two blogs in the precise center: Jim Henley and Oliver Willis. Something doesn't seem quite right about that, though....

Posted by Kevin Drum at June 4, 2003 12:09 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Don't believe it. They have Matt Welch to the right past Steven DeBest. Welch voted for Nader. He likes France's health care system. He likes France! I agree with Matt 95% of the time! (Well, 95% of the 40% of the time he's not discussing baseball, music, or L.A., none of which I care about.)

And while you and Matt Yglesias are both on the "left" side, how did you two get so damn far apart on the map? Really, Kevin, is there anyone else in the blogishere whose opinions are closer to yours?

Posted by: Decnavda at June 4, 2003 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how the map is produced. Probably via links, which is pretty error prone.

In fact, if it *is* produced by looking at links, I'm surprised it's as good as it is. After all, lefties tend to link to righties in order to mock them, and vice versa.

So, no, I'm not sure what to make of this. But it seems like a good conversation piece.

(And no, there are few people closer than Matt and me. Ted Barlow, maybe. And Atrios, although I know that sounds odd since our tones are so different.)

Posted by: Kevin Drum at June 4, 2003 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Think I'm too right or too left?

Posted by: Oliver at June 4, 2003 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

LGF is listed twice.

Posted by: taktile at June 4, 2003 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

Probably some kid with a menu, gets names flashed at him, hits a button.

- Fascist
- Fascist
- Bourgeoise
- Evil Fascist
- Salt-of-Earth
- Neocon!

If that map were a bird with wings like that, it'd just fly round in circles.

It needs to move you left a bit, Oliver.

Posted by: Hoodie Craw at June 4, 2003 01:32 PM | PERMALINK

What's Amygdala doing way over there on the right side?

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at June 4, 2003 01:37 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, with image maps and links it would be pretty cool. But the idea of that many blogs so far to the right of Instapundit is pretty frightening.

Posted by: Prometheus 6 at June 4, 2003 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oliver Willis in the center?
Center of what, exactly?

Posted by: tony at June 4, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hugh Hewitt has anointed four blogs over at the Weekly Standard. They are (drum roll, please): Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and The Volokh Conspiracy. He also takes a shot at Josh Marshall, but that's to be expected. (link via Corante.com)

Posted by: Linkmeister at June 4, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

Man. I wasn't the leftiest? I gotta get to work. I do like being the southern most leftist, though.

Maybe I need a catchy phrase..

Tbogg...he's lefty-rific!

...hmmmm...needs work.

Posted by: tbogg at June 4, 2003 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

How, exactly, is the Daily Howler farther left of Atrios? Granted, it should probably be to the left, but all it does is combat stories in the news (admittedly, right-wing stories) with facts as reported in various other outlets. He's not exactly pushing any firm agenda.

Also, Kevin and Matt should probably be a bit closer.

And the idea that Instapundit is to the righty blogosphere what Matt Yglasias is to the left (as this map suggests) is just wrong. Volokh maybe, but not Instapundit.

Posted by: JoeF at June 4, 2003 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, one other thing...

Perhaps I missed something, but it looks like Altercation is missing. Does that seem wrong to anyone else?

Posted by: JoeF at June 4, 2003 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

A whole bunch of liberals are shown to be right-of-center:

Jeff Jarvis
Matt Welch
Ken Layne
Gary Farber (Amygdala)
Meryl Yourish (A writer, a weblog, her...)
Mickey Kaus (Kausfiles)

Also, why is Ted Barlow to the left of Atrios? That isn't right either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2003 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

Prometheus:

Why must leftists always be "frightened" of everything? Glenn Reynolds is barely right-of-center. You remind me of my ultra-conservative father-in-law who is "frightened" of Bill Clinton's "socialism." Lighten up, dude...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2003 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

Choosing where the center is is a transparently self-serving exercise. Better to point out who's on the wrong side of whom (Ampersand and Tom Tomorrow are, in my experience, the leftiest).

One point: the axis of Clinton-defenders (of whom I am one) is not the leftiest. You get a little farther to the left, and they tend not to give a rat's ass about the Clinton Wars. From their POV, there's not enough difference between Clinton and his enemies to get excited about.

Posted by: son volt at June 4, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

son volt, I think that you have to go pretty far to the left these days to find people who wouldn't prefer Clinton over Bush 2.

I'd say that Glenn is quite a bit farther to the right of say, the Volokh crew. If for no other reason than his stance leading up to the war, especially when it comes to France.

Posted by: JoeF at June 4, 2003 03:20 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn Reynolds is barely right-of-center.

When I think of people "barely right-of-center", I think of Voinovich and Snowe. Renynolds is quite clearly to the right of them.

Now, he's no reactionary, in the same sense as Clinton's not a socialist, but "barely right-of-center" overstates your case quite a bit.

Posted by: aelph at June 4, 2003 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

Michael:

If you want to ask me why the idea of people to the right of Instapundit frightens me, that's a fair question. But I don't speak for all leftists, nor do I try to. It's as silly as asking me why Black people are X.

Posted by: Prometheus 6 at June 4, 2003 03:37 PM | PERMALINK

I would think the fair and balanced CalPundit would be smack dab in the center, no?

Posted by: jdw at June 4, 2003 04:15 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you, jdw. CalPundit is not to the left of Electrolite, Eschaton or Body and Soul.

Posted by: Ben Winden at June 4, 2003 04:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not even close. I'd label KD as a liberal repub or a conservative dem...right in the center, with the dead armadillo.(just kidding)

Posted by: jdw at June 4, 2003 05:18 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how they established locatins, but it was probably quite idiocentric.

It should be based on a survey based on bilateral forced choices.

Posted by: Rick B at June 4, 2003 07:15 PM | PERMALINK

There's some interesting commentary going on here, so I hate to put a damper on it, but the map at issue was generated over at Blogstreet, and is based upon who links to whom.

This explains why some of the older lefties such as myself, Oliver, Jarvis, Welch and Layne all ended up shfted right. We must appear on more right and libertarian blogrolls than some of the newer lefties. In this case, I think the anomolies are the only thing of interest, and even then, all it might imply is that certain blogs are more accepted by the opposition. Instapundit, for example, is on everyone's blogroll, so his central position is not suprising.

So, there may be some interesting positioning on this thing, but it is not the result of someone's judgment of political orientation.

Posted by: Brian Linse at June 4, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the location of the Blogstreet Visual Neighborhood:
http://www.blogstreet.com/visualneighborhood.html
Depending on what blogs you enter, you'll get a different map.

Posted by: Brian Linse at June 4, 2003 08:11 PM | PERMALINK

"CalPundit is not to the left of Electrolite, Eschaton or Body and Soul."

Oh, that depends. I have a very high opinion of Kevin Drum, and Calpundit is definitely one of the tiny number of blogs I read even when I have no time to read blogs.

But I suspect there are a bunch of issues (for instance, just guessing, gun control and intellectual property) on which I take a much more "libertarian" view than Kevin does, which on some people's maps would put me to Kevin's "right."

I'm also a Religio-American, whereas Kevin is a Secular Kinda Guy, which probably counts for 9 points to the right and 8 confusion points on top of that. (Quick: Dorothy Day! "Right" or "Left"? Be prepared to defend your conclusions armed only with a #2 pencil.)

And then there's the whole string-up-the-landlords and eat-the-rich thing, in which Kevin definitely comes out as the nice moderate while I build barricades in the streets with the crazy people and irredentists. ("To Fight Root Decay, Call an Irredentist.")

It's all quite a puzzle. Good thing I like Kevin anyway. After the revolution, we'll definitely make sure his confinement is a comfortable one. Pour l'encourager les autres.

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden at June 4, 2003 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Prometheus,

What? When did I say you speak for all leftists? I just wonder why so many find things "frightening." It's a term I notice leftists use more often than other people. The question isn't about Instapundit, it's about the use of the overuse on the left of the term "frightening."

It's just an odd thing I've noticed, and I have no idea why it happens. I'm a centrist liberal, I used to be a radical leftist, and I overused the word then myself. Maybe that's why I notice it now, but I have no idea why I overused it back then, so that's why I'm curious.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2003 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Michael:

Oh, okay.

Ii happen to think the Conservative agenda is a threat to the liberty of the majority of Americans. Fear would be an appropriate response.

I don't recall using "fright" on my blog, though "threat" would probably bring up a couple of hits. In this case, it was justa biy of hyperbole.

Posted by: Prometheus 6 at June 5, 2003 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Where's Bartcop? Has he been blackballed in the blogosphere? I think that guy's funny as hell.

Posted by: wetzel at June 5, 2003 06:09 AM | PERMALINK

Not sure Bart counts as a "blog", per se.

Posted by: Thlayli at June 5, 2003 09:06 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding Son Volt's Clinton remark--

It's true that some people far to Clinton's left didn't give a crap about the Clinton Wars while they were going on--I was one. In hindsight I've become a believer in HRC's vast right wing conspiracy theory and see the Clinton Wars as the opening battle launched by the far right to lie their way into power.

There were other fairly leftwing folks who saw that all along, including even Marxist types such as Alexander Cockburn. And aaparently most other people at the Nation didn't care too much for what Hitchens did to Sidney.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 5, 2003 09:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'm vaguely familiar with the methodology used to create these maps, and I also checked out the rest of the main website it initially came from. As I suspected, the overall layout of the map is fairly arbitrary. To quote from the TouchGrap.com website, "TouchGraph provides a hands-on way to visualize networks of interrelated information. Networks are rendered as interactive graphs, which lend themselves to a variety of transformations. By engaging their visual image, a user is able to navigate through large networks, and to explore different ways of arranging the network's components on screen".

Put simply, these maps are derived by looking at patterns of connections between nodes (i.e., individual bloggers). The actual layout of the map, once it is created, can be changed, and their software allows one to do this by clicking on a given node and dragging it. Imagine a string of Christmas tree lights. The connections between the individual lights are fixed and can't be changed, i.e., that blue light is next to the red light, which in turn is next to a green one, etc. But you can easily place the whole string of lights onto a table and arrange it into any shape you want.

The map in question is more complicated but the analogy still applies. While connections between individual bloggers must be preserved, you are pretty much free to make the blog-map into whatever shape you desire. The conveniece and esthetic appeal of the visual representation matter at least as much as political orientation when you do this.

In other words, the "left-right" dimension that seems to have caught everyone's attention in this discussion is pretty meaningless once you consider how the map is actually supposed to work.

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