Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reading Tea Leaves at Althouse

The blog of Ann Althouse interests me in part because of what she writes and how well she writes "on the fly," which is to say like an ideal blogger must write. (I don't think that I'm the ideal blogger, by the way.)

But what also interests me about Althouse's blog is that she has such a large audience that the comments section of each piece she writes is something of a measure of what people care about and how intensely.

As of this writing, Althouse has what I would describe as five major posts today: one dealing with an article from today's New York Times detailing the major revision of a standard Art History college textbook; the death of Dana Reeve; one on the question of whether attention deficit was really a disorder; the presidential prospects of Rudy Giuliani; and the implications of the new South Dakota law for possible changes or reversal of Roe v Wade.

Frankly, I would have expected the tragic and untimely death of Dana Reeve, who so helped her husband, the late Christopher Reeve, only to learn that she had lung cancer within a year of his death, would have elicited the most comments. While I didn't think the Art History post would receive massive attention, in spite of Althouse's interesting spin on the story, I had been intrigued by The Times article myself and figured some folks would find it as worthy of attention as I did.

Conversely, I expected almost no conversation about Giuliani's potential candidacy and as to the abortion issue, I thought that there would be some conversation, but not that much. I sense that most Americans share the attitude of the first President Bush when it comes to abortion, irrespective of their views on the subject. Bush, during his term in office, told an aide briefing him on the latest abortion brush-up, "I hate this issue."

I thought that the piece on attention deficit disorder would elicit a number of comments.

But my projections about what would be the hot-button issues for readers of Althouse's blog turned out to be almost completely inaccurate. Right now, the comments count stands as follows:
Abortion post: 62 comments
Giuliani: 47
ADD: 39
Art book: 7
Dana Reeve: 5
Whether this is an accurate measure of the interests of the American people in these subjects today is one question, of course. But there can be little doubt that among Althouse's readers--and I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to their characteristics, there's a desire for a feisty, respectful discussion about abortion and little impulse to discuss art or the Reeve tragedy. I have no idea what that means, if anything.

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