Asian trip 2017-2018

You know the phrase that time flies when you’re having fun? Well, late August I left the Netherlands for a one-week trip to Singapore for the KAS conference, two weeks R&R in Indonesia and a five-month project in Japan. Well, it was over very quickly. Well, that’s how I perceived it anyway. And now I’m already back in the Netherlands for three weeks. And yes, I sometimes I’m homesick for Japan. I mean it’s a very nice country to be. The people are very nice, the scenery is very beautiful, when you know where to look. And of course, the food is absolutely the best.
I had been to Japan three times before, as a tourist, mostly in the spring. Now I had the opportunity to experience autumn and winter, and the occasional typhoon. Christmas began early in Japan, at least for Starbucks: December 1st and all music and decorations were in the spirit of Xmas. Me, from the Netherlands, having Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet on December 5th Starbucks, reallllyyyy: 1st December is tooooooo early for Xmas!
The winter period can be quite cold, but is for the most part beautiful with a lot of sun. This year we had some snow, which is – at least for the east coast – exceptional. The west coast had a lot of slow too. Way too much as far as I could tell.
The project itself was financed by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, for which I am grateful. I also thank University of Tsukuba for acting as host. I really enjoyed the campus life.

A few thanks you for some people. First, the people at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for inviting me. Leslie Tkach-Kawasaki for all the tedious admin-work. I am glad I didn’t have to do that. Junku Lee for the occasional film and nice conversations. Muneo Kaigo for the nice conversations over dinner. And Naoki Fukuhara for our meetings at Starbucks talking about our paper. Also, a thank you to all the people I met during my stay, the dinners and drinks.

It’s been a productive period, having collected over 80Gb of social media data. It was pure luck that Abe announced snap-elections two weeks after I arrived in Japan. I’m working on a few papers on social media in election campaigns and newspapers strategies in the use of social media. that should emerge from this project. Let’s hope the editors and reviewers like them too 🙂

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Norris’ dimensionality of web features on political party websites tested

When analysing the data on web campagining of the EP elections of 2009, I re-analysed the data Pippa Norris was so kind to let me use. My intention was to show the need for testing on multi-dimensionality of a set of indicators. Originally I intended to include the following in the article about EP web campaigning (Vergeer, Hermans & Cunha, 2013), but this was a classic case of ‘killing your darlings’, because the article became too long.
Norris distinguished the two dimensions of Information and Communication a priori, while I wasn’t sure when reviewing the indicators. Some of the indicators didn’t seem to fit the dimensions. For instance, the search function is seen as an indication for communication, whereas this automated feature might also be included to measure informing. To see whether there is different view on the set of indicators, I performed a multiple correspondence analysis (i.e. multivariate cross tabulation (cf. Greenacre, 2007). This resulted in a different dimensional structure. The slide shows that only a small number of web features indicators compose a single dimension[i]. The remaining indicators do not show significant (co-)variance for a second dimension.

Interpreting the dimension shows us that it refers to the presence (right from the origin) and absence of specific web features (left from the origin): the more to the right the more features political parties have on their websites. The second finding is that looking at the labels C (for communication) and I (for information; cf. Norris 2001) these features are randomly scattered across the dimension. This suggests that web features that were assigned to two different dimensions should be merged according to the correspondence analysis. More close inspection also suggests that these features refer to enabling the website visitor to enlist to participate in parties’ activities.
Below the horizontal line, so-called passive variables are presented for descriptive purposes[ii]. Looking at which parties score low or high on the degree of enabling people to participate, we see that it is in particular a) the major and the minor (and not the fringe parties), b) the Green, extreme left, and conservative parties that offer these features more than average. In particular, the liberals and the center parties show below average presence of participation web features.

References:
Greenacre, M. J. (2007). Correspondence analysis in practice. Boca Raton, Fla. ; London: Chapman & Hall/CRC.
Norris, P. (2001). Digital Divide? Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vergeer, M., Hermans, L., & Cunha, C. (2013). Web campaigning in the 2009 European Parliament elections: A cross-national comparative analysis. New Media & Society, 15(1), 128–148. http://doi.org/10.1177/1461444812457337

Notes:
[i] Eigen value = 6.560, Inertia = .205, Cronbach’s α = .875.
‘C’ and ‘I’ indicate the original communication and Information functions as distinguished by Norris (2001).
Categories above the horizontal line belong to variables that influence the dimensional structure. The categories below the horizontal line are supplemental variables that do not influence the dimensionality and are merely included for descriptive purposes.
[ii] Supplementary variables do not influence the dimensionality which arises on the from the analysis on web features (cf. Greenacre, 2007).
 

 

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New publication in Sociology Compass

Early September 2015 a new publication of mine was published in Sociology Compass, titled Twitter and Political Campaigning. It is a review article, discussing many approaches of studying the use of Twitter by politicians and citizens during election campaigns. The abstract of the article reads as follows:

The use of Twitter by politicians, parties, and the general audience in politics, particularly during election campaigns, has become an extremely popular research field almost overnight. Even though Twitter, a medium that emerged early in 2006 – the first tweet was posted on 21 March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter – and elections occurring only every few years, it has already received much academic attention. The studies produced are very diverse, ranging from analyzing how politicians or citizens use Twitter, to looking at their activities and the content of political Twitter messages, to network studies of Twitter users. This review will cover many types of studies that characterize the field. The large diversity in the studies conducted on elections will be represented in this review of approaches.

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