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
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?
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
Think I'm too right or too left?
Probably some kid with a menu, gets names flashed at him, hits a button.
- Evil Fascist
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.
What's Amygdala doing way over there on the right side?
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
Oliver Willis in the center?
Center of what, exactly?
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
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..
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.
Oh, one other thing...
Perhaps I missed something, but it looks like Altercation is missing. Does that seem wrong to anyone else?
A whole bunch of liberals are shown to be right-of-center:
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
I would think the fair and balanced CalPundit would be smack dab in the center, no?
I agree with you, jdw. CalPundit is not to the left of Electrolite, Eschaton or Body and Soul.
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)
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.
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.
Here's the location of the Blogstreet Visual Neighborhood:
Depending on what blogs you enter, you'll get a different map.
"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.
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.
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
Where's Bartcop? Has he been blackballed in the blogosphere? I think that guy's funny as hell.
Not sure Bart counts as a "blog", per se.
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.
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
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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