Thursday, June 23, 2005

Connecting the Blogosphere

One of the things that I always think about is efficiency.

In the blogosphere, a lot of people read a lot of different blogs. However, within a given "circle", blogs are largely shared. For example, I read Darius' blog and Darren's blog, and they are at least pretending to read mine. Having tapped into several distinct blog circles, I can safely say that this is very common.

One of the things bloggers really like to do is post commentary on someone else's news or blog. In fact, some of the most popular blogs do nothing but filter their blog circle for the most interesting posts. However, even less networking-dedicated bloggers will often link to a clever post.

My interest in this post is in optimizing the communication between bloggers.

Right now, the various 'networking bloggers' have dramatically overlapping circles of influence. When something interesting pops up on "mind hacks", I see it in three other blogs as well. That's inefficient, especially since they invariably say "this is cool, go read it". In fact, I rarely see an interesting link to a blog OUTSIDE the circles I've seen. When I do see one, I find it is another circle, and thus a door to ten other blogs - no loose ends, all commenting on each other.

I understand the need for this kind of mental topology. By keeping a group at a hot boil, they can develop a distinct framework for communication, and rapidly "churn" ideas. It's a natural formation. On the other hand, if they have to deal with hundreds of people commenting and cross-posting, they can't really advance nearly as fast. Even if the commenters are posting intelligently, there's just no "teamwork".

But once an idea has been "churned", it needs to go somewhere. These don't. Someone will post something interesting, a circle will develop it into some kind of miniature phenominon, then it dies with a whimper. That's total inefficiency.

What I would think we should do is: I think we should create a "map" of the blogosphere, based on who comments on whose entries. Then, we would simply encourage people to dip into very "disperse" circles that interest them, hence creating tenuous lines of connection which would allow the cream of the crop to migrate via these links from one circle to another. Of course, until a cross-connection is established by the commentees, the commenter(s) are in a wholly different, one-way connected piece of topology... so it is a little complex, but doable.

It's sort of like a reverse Google. Instead of pointing to the most popular sites, it points to active sites which are UNPOPULAR (or, at least, unconnected). With a ratings system and a link-map, both individual sites and circles can be isolated and avoided if they suck.

The thing is, this doesn't require some awesome integrated tool of doom. It just requires an HTML parser. Track who links where, and how often these sites update. An RSS feed would probably be easiest, trying to sign up for any site which is linked to. Cruise the sites, continually harvesting links, and build your topology. You can even watch as memes migrate through the circle by seeing links to non-blogs.

That would be wicked cool. If anyone knows how that could be accomplished, I would definitely try to do it.

Add-on tool: we can track who you work "most" with based on commentary and response. In turn, we can track who is on your "team". In turn, we can track "team players" and rate commenters on how likely they are to be saying something meaningful.


Textual Harassment said...

How about a low-tech solution: If the interest groups of two circles overlap, there is bound to be someone who is intersted in relating one subject to another. Let that person start a blog including links to both circles and commentary on what lessons can be learned by putting information from one circle into another. It has to relevant enough to gain acceptance into both circles. Now you have connected two circles that have a meaningful relationship, and their relationship is expressed in an intelligent way.

Craig Perko said...

Well, the problem is that there ISN'T bound to be someone who has a foot in both groups. Even when we get lucky and there IS someone, it's often someone who isn't a networker - like me - and therefore you get only one or two links a month.

Moreover, the linker is unknown. Without some method of pointing out the isolated yet active sites, it's unlikely anyone will 'stumble into' a given connecting blog...

But the idea of blogs specifically for connecting two distinct blog circles is a good one. Hmmm...