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Linked social information on blogs and online social networks provides a rich source of policy feedback for citizens, journalists, politicians and researchers, yet the qualitative value hidden in this information is rarely exploited. In order to address the problem, this article presents a systematic methodology for retrieving targeted information on a political issue from prominent online sources. Using news services for triangulation, the methodology enables qualitative analysis regarding the spread of political opinions on an issue across a relevant sample of linked social information on the internet. The resulting pattern informs not only about the structure and information flows across linked social information but also about sentiments and opinion adoption over time. A model of opinion formation is presented and used to apply the methodology.
Date of Conference: 4-7 Jan. 2011