Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The results of my content analysis of BusinessWeek's Second Life coverage

I mentioned earlier that I was in the midst of building a modified General Inquirer negative dictionary to analyze BusinessWeek's coverage of Second Life in the past year. The results are in. I used Yoshikoder, LexisNexis Academic, Excel, and a modified General Inquirer Negative dictionary to perform the analysis. Here are the negative rates that I obtained:
Ian Lamont's CCA data relating to negative rates in BusinessWeeks Second Life coverage
A couple of notes on the methodology, before I give a quick-and-dirty interpretation of the data. First, the study did not use sampling methods. Rather, all of the BusinessWeek and BusinessWeek Online articles in the LexisNexis database that mentioned "Second Life" were used (articles that used "Second Life" in some other context were discarded.) Still, there weren't many articles to use, as this table shows:

Jan-06 0
Feb-06 0
Mar-06 1
Apr-06 1
May-06 3
Jun-06 0
Jul-06 3
Aug-06 1
Sep-06 2
Oct-06 3
Nov-06 6
Dec-06 1
Jan-07 2
Feb-07 2
Mar-07 2
Apr-07 8
May-07 0
Jun-07 2

Moreover, many of the articles were briefs of just a few hundred words, meaning there not only was a lack of text to analyze, but also the chance of the results being clouded by a single negative sentence were quite high.

Because of the lack of text available for my use, I did not perform a KWIC (keywords in context) analysis. Instead, I performed a full Yoshikoder dictionary report on all of the concatenated articles from each month of the survey, using the giant GI Negative dictionary that I had created. There are a few breaks in the data -- this was because BusinessWeek didn't mention Second Life in June 2006 and May 2007.

So, what does the data mean? The BW articles that were published in the latter part of 2006 generally had a lower percentage of negative terms than those published in the first four months of 2007. This agrees with the anecdotal observations by myself and a few other sources that BW hyped Second Life in late 2006.

However, the negative rates from the early part of 2006 were surprisingly high. In May 2006, the rate approached 5%, and that was the same month BusinessWeek made the famous pronouncement that "Virtual worlds abound in useful business applications." The analysis suggests that there was actually a stronger negative thread running through the BW coverage during this time, although that apparently dropped away during the summer, when the negative rate dipped to about 2.5% in August.

Later this week, I'll try to catch up with other topics that I wanted to blog about on I Lamont, including my trip to Singapore for State of Play V.

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