Comments: More comments on...

First of all, thanks for being a great filter for all of this ongoing discussion. Secondly, I just wanted to clarify that the part of my post about asking for a new connection was meant to be taken precisely in your second interpretation -- spark a real conversation with a blogger who *would* have given you the attention (due to shared topic of interest, e.g.) had you been more visible in a Technorati/IceRocket/blah blah search. Certainly there are folks who do gain benefit from the "ask for an opportunistic link" strategy (and at the extreme end of the continuum we call them "spammers" ;)), but that's exactly what I'm arguing against. There's a tendency many of us seem to have to gravitate toward the short-term gain of getting a quick link and a temporary traffic spike and hoping to retain some of that traffic. Taking a different approach that builds relationships first is the less travelled path because it can come without the observable near-term gains in terms of direct linkage -- but over time, as those relationships are strengthened, the linkage will be a natural outcome of that connection as well as all the other new connections that stem from it as communities form. Plus, expending the effort to cultivate strong ties is, for many, a more enjoyable and authentic process than continually grasping at quick hits from weak connections on the list(s) -- though none of that emotional subtlety is going to be captured or rewarded by these algorithms (can we hope to capture any emotional subtlety in an algorithm? Topic for a separate post, methinks :)).

It seems to me that the tools (Technorati et al) are reinforcing the old "flood and retain" model of finding one's audience, and it would behoove us to build an alternative set of tools that would help us foster the "dig the well" method. As such, the idea of measuring conversation within topic communities is exciting, because it rewards effort and involvement over status and prestige. I worry, though, about churning through any algorithm and producing yet another list, and I'm not convinced that a list of any kind will satisfy what I'm most hungry to know about -- e.g. Peter Caputa's words above: "how many of them are actually people that have a meaningful relationship with me? Or even just a two way relationship with me? How many of them know someone I know? Or 5 people that I know? Do those people have meaningful relationships with each other?" I echo the sentiment that dammit, I'd love to know that kind of information. How do we build a framework deep enough to let that kind of information emerge? And how do we visualize the results of a community algorithm? I can only imagine it has to be something other than a list. If we're going to be modeling social networks, our view will always be impoverished by collapsing them into lists, and I'm really craving a way to visually present those interrelationships in a more intuitive way that I imagine will start to take on qualities of clouds (thanks, Adina!), or navigable node maps (a la Mitch Radcliffe, http://www.ratcliffeblog.com/archives/2005/08/cloudmakers_r_u.html). Can we generate these kinds of visualizations from such a community algorithm?

Posted by barb dybwad at August 18, 2005 11:13 PM