Paying Attention to Sudan

Jim Moore is asking good questions about interest – and lack of interest – in the blogosphere about Sudan. He observes that Feedster mentions of Sudan have increased dramatically, with twice as many mentions in the past 24 hours as in the past year. This is likely due to the good news about the end of the North-South civil war, a bloody conflict that’s been raging for over two decades.

I’m looking at the same trends with a different tool – BlogPulse’s Trend Search, an elegant little tool from the fine folks at Intelliseek, featured on Blogpulse’s showcase of research tools, alongside my GAP research, which uses the BlogPulse API. Trend Search lets you see how a particular term (or boolean arrangement of tools) has been represented in the Blogosphere over the past month. While it’s not as up-to-the minute as Jim’s Feedster data, it gives some historical perspective to these trends.

This graph from Trend Search seems to suggest that much of the blogging about Sudan has been about Darfur – the peaks on the searches for “Sudan” and for “Darfur” align neatly, with the peak in early May aligning with a New York Times front page story on Darfur and the news that Sudan would retain its seat on the UN’s Commision on Human Rights. I would expect to see a boom in results for “sudan AND peace” – the green line – over the next couple of days.

Since my interest is in comparative media interest, I thought I’d look at blogs mentioning Sudan, versus blogs mentioning Afghanistan and Iraq. Blogpulse sees roughly 1.75% of blogs, on any given day, mentioning Iraq. In comparison, about 0.25% mention Afghanistan and 0.04% mention Sudan. In other words, roughly 44 times as many people are blogging Iraq as are blogging Sudan. (That’s a much lower multiple than I would have expected, actually.)

Jim is trying to organize a google-bombing of Sudan by getting folks to blog the word “Sudan” and link it to Passion of the Present, a site he’s helping organize to call attention to the plight of the residents of Darfur. Unlike John Kerry and waffles, or George W Bush and “miserable failure”, this google-bombling has a point – the Khartoum government has proven very sensitive to public pressure. If Google tells them the world is paying attention to Darfur, perhaps they’ll ease more of the restrictions making it difficult for food and aid to reach refugees in Darfur.

(I’m interested in the google-bombing for research reasons as well as political ones – could the 0.04% of us who are blogging about this crisis manage to affect search engine rankings?)

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