Red Blog, Blue Blog
What kinds of news stories stir up liberals? What kind thrill the conservatives?
Those questions likely won't be definitively answered soon, at least not by humans. But a team of Microsoft researchers, specialists in natural language processing and machine learning, has been trying to resolve them using the Web.
The research group, based at the company's Redmond, Wash. headquarters, is developing a program that classifies news stories according to whether liberal or conservative bloggers are linking to them.
Then, to see which stories really excite the partisans, the program further aims to measure the "emotional intensity" of the blog posts that a news story has inspired. The intensity measure is based on the frequency of key words, such as "criminal" and "lying," in the blog posts. Check it out here.
For example, an item this week about Geraldine Ferraro's remarks on Sen. Barack Obama attracted links from 16 liberal bloggers and four conservative ones. The conservatives comments, however, were more heated.
"We were all a little frustrated reading the news," said Sumit Basu, one of the researchers. "It is a solitary experience and you wonder what articles other people are reading and what they're thinking about them. You can use the bloggers as a proxy for those other people."
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