Mapping the Public Agenda with Topic Modeling:The Case of the Russian LiveJournal
The purpose of this research is to describe the agenda set by the Internet-active part of the Russian public in Russia’s leading blog platform LiveJournal. This is done through modelling the Livejournal’s topic structure viewed as a reflection of online public opinion. Topic modelling is performed automatically with a LDA algorithm, and complemented with hand labelling of topics. Data are collected by the original software to a relational database that houses all posts of Livejournal top users from three selected periods. The research finds that Livejournal top users share their attention evenly between social / political and private / recreational issues, the latter being very stable, while the influence of protests in 2011 is clearly visible in the political part of the blogs’ content. The group of topics centred around social issues demonstrates the biggest volatility and may serve as an online public opinion barometer that may be applied for proactive policy making.