When opinion leaders blog: New forms of citizen interaction

Andrea Kavanaugh, Joseph Schmitz, Than Than Zin, Manuel Pérez-Quiñones, John M. Carroll, Philip Isenhour

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Web logs (i.e., blogs) provide enhanced opportunities to extend capabilities of traditional electronic mail and discussion lists, especially in the hands of opinion leaders; such tools offer greater social interaction and informal discussion, and opportunities for conversational content production. Because blogging tools are simple, available, and free, users can easily communicate with others in their social networks, their geographic communities and the interested public. Blogs represent self-organizing social systems that can help many persons to: 1) interact collaboratively, 2) learn from each other by exchanging ideas and information, and 3) solve collective problems. For opinion leaders - that small percentage of the population that is socially and politically active - blogs represent another channel to disseminate ideas and garner feedback from members of their social network. The present research offers findings from a random household survey of citizens of Blacksburg and Montgomery County, Virginia about citizens' interests and attitudes towards local government, discussion of political issues, and their Internet use. We find that opinion leaders who engage in some form of blogging (read or write) are more likely to be male, extroverted and educated than bloggers who are not politically active. They score higher than other bloggers on measures of offline and online political interests and activities, community collective efficacy, and the size and heterogeneity of their political discussion networks. As such, their use of blogs may serve as a growing new communication channel to exercise their informal influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2006
Event7th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, Dg.o 2006 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: May 21 2006May 24 2006


Other7th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, Dg.o 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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