A View from Henry Jenkins

America Shops for a President

Media watchers have long learned to pay attention to the Lycos 50 and the Technorati’s Top 100 blogs to get a feel for what is interesting the public at the moment. These indexes show us when a particular teen star…

  • June 22, 2004

Media watchers have long learned to pay attention to the Lycos 50 and the Technorati’s Top 100 blogs to get a feel for what is interesting the public at the moment. These indexes show us when a particular teen star or pop idol or film franchise has caught our fancy and left us hungry for more information and pictures.

The Lycos 50 in particular is a index of what America has on its mind. At the moment, for example, we are thinking about Paris Hilton, Harry Potter, Neo-Pets, and Clay Aiken, among assorted other topics. At Lycos, we don’t seem to be thinking very much about the fall election. The only political figure to play in the Top 50 at Lycos is Ronald Reagan.

Over at Technorati, on the other hand, the netizens and bloggers do seem to have the fall election on their minds. There, John Kerry ranks 40 while George W. Bush lags behind at 54th place in terms of the number of links and blog references made to their sites. Of course, this is tricky data to read – more people may simply be trying to figure out who John Kerry is or watching to see how often he shifts his positions. It makes sense at this point in the campaign that more people will be looking closely at the challenger; they have four years of experience with the current Resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But, with everyone desperate to get a read on which direction the wind is blowing, we can’t afford to neglect any data point. :-)

The Technorati, to be sure, are not a cross-section of the American public. But, we do know that the heaviest Internet users are more likely to be registered and more likely to vote than the non-tech sector of the population. They tend not to be aligned with either political party and are drawn towards candidates who are economically conservative but socially libertarian in their outlook.

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