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Written by Ng E-Jay
12 February 2015
I attended the Institute of Policy Studies seminar entitled “Assessing the Rationality of Political Online Space” held on 11 Feb 2015. In this seminar, IPS presented quantitative research done on online political blogs in an attempt to assess characteristics such as journalistic objectivity, level of emotions, and level of partisanship. Regression analysis was carried out to identity and evaluate correlations between these characteristics.
Some interesting observations emerged out of this quantitative study. Firstly, blogs that had consistently strong political content were largely written by anonymous authors. It was hypothesized by some at the conference that this could be due to the lingering climate of fear that the government has instituted in the local political culture. Numerous defamation suits against well known bloggers like Alex Au and against former political candidates like Vincent Wijeysingha come readily to mind as factors that contribute to this climate of fear.
Secondly, there appeared to be no correlation between whether a blog was political or apolitical, and the level of emotional outburst displayed by the blog author. People who blogged exclusively about LGBT issues, for example, could display much more emotion than people who blogged about failed government policies. It was therefore hypothesized by some that it is the level of personal interest and involvement in the issue at hand that determines displays of emotional outburst, rather than merely whether the topic is political or apolitical. This is, of course, a very logical if not obvious deduction.