Lippmannian Device

The tool provides a coarse view of a source's partisanship and/or issue commitments.

Classified under Mapping Approaches (Digital epistemology), Tools Applied (Digital methods, Lippmannian device), Users (Academics, Issue professionals, Journalists, Decision-makers), Visualizations (Tag cloud), Data Management (Tagging/coding)

The Lippmannian Device: Equipment for mapping and interpreting controversies.

The Lippmannian Device (also known as the Googlescraper and available here, with extensive instructions of use) is a piece of equipment for mapping and interpreting controversies. Specifically, the device may be employed to gain a coarse sense of a source's partisanship and/or issue commitments. It is named after Walter Lippmann, the American journalism scholar. The device queries Google, in a two-step process, and makes the results available for further interpretation.

Using the Lippmannian Device I (Research with the top Web sources for a particular issue)

To get started, choose an issue, e.g., "synthetic biology", and query Google in the normal fashion, with preferences set at 100 results. (At this stage, one may query, a national Google such as, or the Lippmannian Device.) Copy and paste the results of the query into the harvester, choosing only hosts and only unique hosts. Press harvest. The ordered list returned are the top sites on the Web, according to Google, for the issue. To gain a coarse view of the sources' partisanship and/or commitments, open the Lippmannian Device, and query each source for a particular term, organization or actor name, e.g., "Craig Venter", or Venter, the well-known synthetic biologist. The source list is placed in the top box, and the issue in the bottom box. Which actors mention Venter, and which do not, and with which frequency? The results show the extent to which top synthetic biology sources on the Web choose to mention Venter.

Using the Lippmannian Device II (Research with any set of Web sources for particular issues)

The Lippmannian Device is not only a tool that shows whether the top Google sources for a particular issue query mention a key word. One may wish to query any given set of sources for partisanship and/or issue commitment. For example, one may wish to query the global human rights network for "child labor" in order to gain a sense of how that particular issue currently resonates. One also may wish to compare the resonance between two or more issues across network actors, "child labor" and "children's rights".

Use Case: Climate Change Skeptics on the Web

The Lippmannian Device has been employed in mapping the resonance of climate change skeptics on the Web.

Detailed Instructions of Use

There are detailed instructions of use for how to make source clouds and issue clouds.

Related items from Macospol

Climate Change Skeptics on the Web
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