I’m sure this has been pointed out elsewhere, but in googling some of the folks presenting at the conference, I notice this paper co-authored by one of the presenters: “‘Googlearchy’: How a Few Heavily-Linked Sites Dominate Politics Online” (pdf). This is good stuff. I’ve only given it a cursory glance-through, but I already know that it will be on the reading list for my course next semester.
Some of what it is doing (power laws? who’s have guessed?) is well-grounded empirically, but not all that surprising. But they also model this linkage and hyperlink position as an estimate of user behavior, which is often implied, but more rarely discussed, and connect this to the content. This combination of approaches, along with a nice explication of their approach, should make for a good jumping-off point for some of the discussions in the class.