More comments on a community based algorithm and the attendant issues...
...with Linkrank, the Technorati 100, A listers, and creating a dialog to move beyond it.
Tish G at Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams talks about trading links to create a vibrant community:
I love the community of voices on my blog, the different kinds of people, from men to mommybloggers to compulsive knitters. Linking back to them shows that in my own way I'm maintaining a vibrant community of interesting people who don't need to be in the same niche. It's more about Life than about one particular aspect or thing in life. Then again...that's just me being ecclectic and non-committal I guess ;-)
This may be true, that by linking on blogrolls, as we visit each other's blogs, we read those rolls to see the visible community. But additionally, Halley brings this up (and Tish responds) as she has been thinking about how to make more bloggers visible with inbound link counts by asking A-Listers to link to others. With this, she tries to define Noblesse Oblige:
There is a notion of NOBLESSE OBLIGE -- here's the definition -- it is the responsibility of those of high rank, power or nobility to be generous -- literally from the French "noblesse" nobility (being the queen) "oblige" obligates one. Nobility and rank obligates you to do selfless, generous acts.
Is it not generous of those of "high rank" in the blogosphere to blogroll someone?
Two things. One is that for now, a link is a link is a link. There is no differnce in Technorati's link count system of whether a linking blog is an A-lister or not, so really by this methodology, asking for and getting a link anywhere would help.
However, it concerns me that the reason we throw this solution out is to change the ranks of the less powerful. But in fact it doesn't change anything at all except for a few because in the end we are gaming the flawed system of *only* counting inbound links to the exclusion of all other metrics of conversation.
Maybe a better way to approach this issue is to define Robert Fuller's ideas around dignitarianism, where those in power don't abuse their power and the community creates solutions to problems as they arise. It seems to me that the solution to our rankist issues with inbound links is much more appropriately solved by changing the system, than by asking those who benefit from rankism to share some power with a few (there is no way A Listers have the time or the blogspace to do all the linking we would need to see to correct the problems of rankism with linking.)
Jonathan Carson at Buzzmetrics Mouthpiece:
One thing which I think might be interesting to add to the discourse, would be something around topicality. i.e. "influential on what?" Because BuzzMetrics is typically answering questions of influence within a commercial setting, we are rarely looking for "top bloggers." We are looking for "top influencers amongst wireless application developers who happen to be positively inclined towards the Linux platform."
This makes the problem much more complicated to solve, but would make it far more useful from a commercial standpoint. That may not be the goal of the open source ranking system that Mary recommends - but certainly that system would then be leveraged for such commercial purposes if it were to be built.
He is absolutely right that topics play a large role in figuring out communities of interest in order to find conversation, if in fact that proves to be the best way to go about this. However, I would dispute that the community proposal is a 'ranking system' but rather a community algorithm, based on topic communities. But I want to see this community algorithm, as both a description of communities, by topic, as well as community generated. So I'm looking for expressions of what communities mean to people, how they want to see those communities, and Jonathan's example community: 'wireless application developers who happen to be positively inclined towards the Linux platform' is great because it gives indications of his needs and desires for community, and in looking for influencers, linkrank would not tell him. Rather other factors will show this.
Christina's LIS Rant:
This seems a bit egocentric or even whiney at first glance, but keep in mind that 1) many bloggers are actually trying to help people and need to have readership to do it 2) many other bloggers are trying to sell ads.
Dina Meta in Blog Ranking and Popularity:
For instance, I have no interest in what my ranking on Technorati is, but I do visit it daily to see who is linking to me and how they might have progressed a thought. Yet, I'm not so happy when these get transformed into lists, ratings and rankings. Are you merely well-known, or well-read?
How would you define and measure popularity in the blogworld? Can there be a robust quantitative measure? Does the blog software you use matter? Are links and comments and page visits and clicks good measures? How is stickiness measured?
I'd rather look at more qualitative measures (disclaimer : I am a practitioner of qualitative research) like relevance, integrity and credibility when you engage readers in your areas of interest, empathy generated, stretch in teasing boundaries, intimacy with your audience. A combination of respect and amicability. There was a good discussion about some of these issues at the opening session at BlogHer.
So I want to know what people feel are the measures of relevance, integrity and credibility? Interest and empathy generated, stretch in teasing boundaries, intimacy with your audience? Respect and amicability? How do we fold those in?
And Dina Meta again with Blog Ranking and Popularity (2):
I like this measure - "i enjoy their company" - maybe someone should use that as some form of index? There are some bloggers who come up with really 'popular' posts which get linked to heavily - they may be 'popular' in a mechanized sense, but it isn't always the case that they make for relevant reads most of the time. There's value in what Alok says as it may lend itself to a more holistic approach - if someone loves hanging out at your blog, enjoys your company through conversations there, that's the best measure for me. It is what builds my network and community in ways that are far more compelling than from just links I may generate.
I like it too, but what is it that bring us to an understanding of 'enjoying your company' if that is a standard we want to include?
Somewhat Frank suggests that blogs be divided into three categories in order to help solve the problem:
• Primary: General consumer blogs, such as teen blogs, family blogs, and other personal blogs (i.e. My Space, etc.).
• Secondary: Business blogs...purely-for-business blogs. They exist to sell products and services and are usually tied to companies or organizations.
• Tertiary: Serious bloggers, or as John describes them those "who talk endlessly about "the blogosphere". Recognize them? They are serious bloggers, info-providers, probloggers, A, B, and C-listers, people who use blogs to sell themselves and their ideas ~ what H.G. Wells called "the originative intellectual workers".
Mitch at Ratcliffe blog asks this question in regard to news, but links to the post, so I assume he means it to apply to both news and blogs:
I reiterate my question: How do you create a measurable connection between producer and customer, one with sufficient transparency and give-and-take that enables a debate that would actually improve the value, truth and usefulness of the news today?
And Halley again, recounting Doc's notion that the internet is intrinsically feminine (Britt Blaser was the first to actually tell me this a year or so ago and I think it's pretty insightful):
Even the word "LINK" is not neutral. It describes the way the brain synapses work. It describes the way the Net was built. It describes an attitude of distributed SHARED intelligence. It's funny to remember what Doc concluded -- it's so FEMALE, the Net is so feminine, as is the notion of sharing power in a networked structure. (Ever heard of a "family?")
Wondiring on Blog Social Network Analysis:
Blogging is only ostensibly publishing and syndicating thoughts to an unknown audience, and really more about pinging your friends (via links, trackbacks, etc) about your thoughts on what they're thinking or to get their thoughts on what you're thinking. I blog knowing that I probably only have a couple regular readers (who I in turn read each day) and I'm really just talking to them, and anyone else who wants to stop by I suppose. In that sense, it's a very organic SN.
To me that sounds like a nod to conversation, but I may be mistaken.
Adina Levin at Book Blog notes that clouds of blogs by topic, with some sort influence weight, might solve this problem:
Time would be an interesting factor. Perhaps one could view the cloud by week, month, or year. See how participation ebbs and flows over time. A longer time frame would be interesting -- I wonder whether other bloggers are "bursty" in their topics of interest. A long time frame would catch people who come and go.
And Library Clips notes:
We have to be mindful that incoming links score high with what is important to our contemporary culture…if war, gadgets, politics, etc…are important or topical within our culture, then these types of posts will get you high on the list.
We need to help the emergence of important blog content that is absorbed in the long tail (just because of lack of incoming links, and the specificity of the topic)…how do we expose these types of blogs….I think top blogs by topic, by comments, etc…is a start.
And a couple of nods to very nice folks who noticed other things in my original post or did something creative:
Sour Duck notes the value of the image from Paris in making the subject more interesting. Thanks much!
And thanks to Jonathan at Buzzmetrics Mouthpiece for the little plug, noted on his blog recommending 'HodderNot' as the name for this effort .. and PC4MEdia's buying of "amihoddernot.com" ... cute! Not sure that's right for this whole thing (it shouldn't be about me) but I love your spirit.
I take this as a vote of confidence and support in the effort!
Posted by Mary Hodder at August 13, 2005 11:25 PM
When thinking about it, I don't quite see how the problem of linking for essay/lit/memoir/society-commentary blogs can be easily solved.
It crossed my mind awhile back that time spent on a particular blog might be a good indicator of significance--then again, stats that display time spent can easily be played with by logging into one's own blog and slowly walking away from the computer....for a long time...
Also, just counting post links won't be of much help either. We don't necessarily post-link to one another's content. We may, on occasion, link to a specifically good post of someone else, but our modus opporandi is usually to post about where we are in the world--to entertain and to leave something of a record of who and what we are about at this point in time in this particular century.
I'm sure some might wonder why we just don't go over to LJ or Xanga or MySpace. As I have discovered, the majority of individuals on those particular social software sites have a different aim than those of us who do essay/lit/memoir. We are looking to reach a wider audience and aren't necessarily into the chit-chat and pickup nature of, for example, MySpace.
Further, some of us just don't fit the age criteria of these sites either ;-)
(I find it funny that there is now a niche called "mommyblogging"...which then becomes a quatifiable subset of "identity blogging" and could conceivable become measurable..which still won't help others not mommyblogging)
It seems that those of us who are not hardcore information-dispersing entities, who are not so hardwired and easily categorized with what we blog about, need the Nobless Oblige of A-listers the way that poets, artists and writers of other centuries needed patrons and "salons" (or saloons, as some of our blogs can be).
How we can be appropriately measured...I have no clue...but I think meaningful dialoge regarding the complex nature of blogs can help to sort out what's going on in the blogosphere and expose more of us to more of you (although convincing some in the political sphere that non-political people have value and are entitled to a voice can be, well, a challenge)