A Crash Course in
Civil Discourse on Political Blogs

2008, Fang-Yu Frank Lin

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How It Works

The technical portion of Political Science 101 is composed of four components: a RSS aggregator, a data processor, a data visualizer, and a projector.

I) The RSS feeds of 400 political blogs are aggregated using Google Reader. The combined data set is accessed through the unofficial Google Reader API.

II) A back-end Java application normalizes, parses, and analyzes the data obtained from Google Reader.

III) The charts and graphs are created by a front-end Flash application based on the analytics provided from the back-end. The front-end application also controls the slide projector's slide-forward motion through a microcontroller.

IV) The "slide projector" is in fact two projectors in one. A video projector was taken apart, modified, and retrofitted into a also-modified slide projector. The video projected via the video projector circuitry is synchronized with the electro-mechanical slide-forward motion of the slide projector to create the illusion of real, physical slides being projected.

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