I upgraded this blog to Movable Type 3.2 this morning, a relatively painless experience for me considering my less than stellar understanding of how these things work. I usually end up asking for help! Despite a few issues over file permissions (I never get these right) and having to install a patch for Blacklist, eveything looks good – as long as this goes up!
I’m reading some good posts today. Over at the Blog Herald, a post about the evolutionof bloggers and how, in the last 6 months or so, it’s gone mainstream and the (early) majority are adopting it, moving away from the geeks and the early adopters towards everyone who ever had the need to have a webpage and a few who never wanted one before.
Dave Sifry has posted his report on spam and fake blogs. This has less numbers than the previous updates and is is more a decription piece, with details of the varuous types of spamming and a summary of the kinds of actions that have been done and what is planned. What is clear is that thos problem has not been cracked in any meaningful way – there are still plenty of discussions to be had.
WIth a finding that 30% of the US internet population, close to 50 million people, have visited a blog (even if they do not realise it’s a blog) then it has to have interest to the monetizers if the internet, especially given the summarised findings of the type of vistors.
The challenge comes around the detail (in the pdf report), looking at the visits/visitors to the various blogs. Jason looks closely at his company’s blogs vs that of Nick Denton’s (who sponsored the report) and finds worrying discrepancies that he cannot reconcile with what he knows from other sources about traffic figures. The debate seems set to continue.
Danah Boyd has written about link bias using a random smaple. Although she says that her conclusions are not firm enough to be called findings, they provide good indicators into some online behaviours.
Looking at the Technorati 100, many of which are group blogs, often with some financial incentive she concludes that regardless of the algorithm, where there is an advantage to being in the ‘top’ lisitng, people will try and manipulate the algorthm.
On Mary Hodder’s thoughts,
While i’ve been looking into the linking patterns, Mary Hodder has been thinking through new metrics for measurement. These are very important but not because one is better than the other. In fact, if we all switched to any of her metrics, we’d have just as many biases as we have now. And many of the Top blogs would try to figure out how to get rank in that system. The significance lies in the ability to offer choice.
Choice is the key – different ways ot look at what is there.
India Knight has a piece in the Sunday Times today about the rise of blogs. As with many of the articles in the press this week, despite a mention of an Iraqi blogger Sallam Pax, it focuses in gossip and online diaries, not the multitude of other uses that can be found. I guess it’s the most obvious of the hooks into the media type.
Mary Hodder has blogged her starting point for a new kind of ranking, an effort to measure the social relationships across blogs and posts. There’s a lot of information and suggestions in the post; some of the things suggested may not be possible, but at this is a start.
In part 3 of Sifry’s review of the blogosphere, he reviews tagging, which really started taking off at the beginning of the year. Key points:
I’m expecting the former number to increase and the latter to decrease slowly. There’s a nice animation video showign the growth of the tags.
The review of spam blogs was promised next; still waiting. Definitely interested in how those are being tackled.
The Technorati Popularity list – you can ignore it, love it or hate it for lots of reasons. It’s the equivalent of the All-time greatest hits chart, looking at total number of links over time. But just because Elvis or The Beatles would always be on top of the charts looking at total sales, does not mean they would be on the chart if there was a smaller timescale.
Blogpulse have a daily chart, citing the blogs with the most links on a particular day. Doing a random sample across a number of days, there’s some overlap with the Technorati list (BoingBoing, DailyKos, Engadget), but plenty of variations as well, on Sunday, blogher was at number 3.
BUt we’re still not there. The numbers increase every day, the long tail grows longer and there’s a growing call for a way of doing things differently. Whilst the instigators from Blogher are still discussing it, Jason Calacanis has gone and put his money where his mouth is. He is offering $50,000 in advertsing for a compnay who builds a listing based on what he is after, or $10,000 for an individual. He wants:
I’d add another requirement – the ability to slice and dice by category/metadata. That of course would need the categorising data to be collected form the blogs or when blogs are registered with the search services, but I can see the need to be able to assess ‘popularity’ with a niche, ie movie blogs, music blogs etc. But that’s a longer term desire.
In putting this challenge up, you could argue that Jason is acting in the ‘old model’, or, more likely the ‘male model’. There’s a problem, here’s a solution, throw money at it and get it fixed my way. This is in contrast to the more collaborative, discussion based way I see Mary Hodder’s proposal developing. So is Jason just perpetuating the male domination of the space by making more lists based on popularity? I don’t think so; he’s trying to make what we have (a subjective, measurable analysis) better and is prepared to encourage it.
David Sifry’s posting yesterday regarding the rate of blog creation got a fair bit of press, with the BBC being quick to pick it up. The free paper the Metro also has it, burt their online version is different to the one in the paper. Online, they talk about a number of blog related firings, as they so in the paper, but the paper adds a curiously out of place quote from Belle De Jour (well, at least I know she’s posting again). Interstingly, no explanation of what a blog is.
Anyway, Sifry has his second review out today. This is reviewing posting volume – the number of posts added to the web every day; it’s coming in at 10.4 posts a second. So that’s one new blog a second and over 10 new posts a second; the challenge for the search tools is keeping up. The increase is attributed to the rising number of ways to post – IM, email, mobile and straight form other services. Ease of use encourages rapid response, reducing time between thought and it being on the page and out there. That may not always be a good idea, but as we’ve seen from recent events, there are occasions when such rapid response adds value.
David Sifry is examining the state of the world of blogs again, through his Technorati tracking. In the first of a few articles he looks at the creation rate of blogs, the numbers of which seems to be growing exponentially and doubling every 5 months. The key figure for me (as for him) is the seemingly consistent 55% activity rate, that is 55% of blogs created are active.
I’d like to see a breakdown of that 45% drop off, which services providers have the greater numbers? I would not be surprised to see that there were higher abandonments in the ready-to-wear variety of blogs, the sign up and you’re there Bloger, Livejournal, MSN Spaces etc. Low cost of entry means less investment, so less incentive to stay. The same factors that are encouraging the growth also mean that people don’t stick to it. Looking at the results of the MIT blog survey, 20% of respondents said that the blog was created a a journal of their life. A personal diary. So like any personal diaries some will fall by the wayside, to be embarassingly discovered in a future moment.
Blogebrity have an anlysis of popularity; looking at the the top 5 on the Technorati lists.
The list phenomenom got some focus in the backchat yesterday. Comments included:
The general concensus was that the popularity of a blog is ignored when people are looking for things of interest. Search tools allow you to lookfor blogs that are writing about your favourite topics. As Blogebrity says, the most popular blogs are often multi-author, and they write about lots of things. They pull together snippets from all over and they act as a good starting point to find other things. When I started reading blogs, I did start with what are called A-list blogs. they link to a lot of things (and get lots of links back) They are a jumping off point to the rest of the environment, the head of the trail. I got asked the other day how I found a blog; I have no recollection, I followed a trail, read something new that I liked and added it to the list. I’m doing the same from the Blogher listing. Reading the new links, saving the ones that have some resonance. Finding new voices is a joy.
But lists won’t go away; and they’ll be most easily driven from things that are easily measured – technorati uses incoming links. Other measures get into subjectivity, looking at peoples votes etc. And there’ll always be arguments and dissension whatever the measure.
Update 2: here’s some more links that discuss listings. Mary Hodder talks about the discussion and about her proposed community algorith to add more context to any popularity stakes (because any listing is some measure of that). She also links to a wiki list that has been created since Blogher, of women of authority who are prepared to talk at conferences.
Against listings is Halley. She comes down against ‘a’ list – that’s old media but makes this statement which lies closest to my own take onthe matter
If lists exist to give you a fast way to find other blogs you like, then there should be many many lists — best female blogs, best Spanish language blogs, best food blogs, best blogs on hybrid cars; etc.
One list won’t do; there’ll always be a matrix of lists. Whilst someone may be top of one person’s list, be a favourite, they could be way down another person’s list, someone who they never, ever wnat to read again. Tastes differ. Trying to find one way of recognising such tastes is futile
Yesterday I tuned into the chat for Blogher. It appeared that the majority of people involved were not at the conference, but were keeping track through the live bloggers; we held a sort of parallel discussion, covering such topics as wahy we blog, political blogging and the art (or not) of flaming and how to deal with being flamed. There was only one track for the chat, so in the times where there were multiple sessions, there was a small vote. I only lasted half the day – too much time difference. Two good round ups of the day are from Jay Rosen and from Nancy White. There are many other posts and photos to be found through the normal search engines(the conference blog has the list). Maybe the next time (I’m prety sure there’ll be a next time) I’ll get to go.
On Thursday, I posted about Kryptonite,how there is always another side to the story and how the compnay updated its approach to listening to customers. The chapter of Blogging in a Crisis has since been updaed by Robert and Shel.
There’s a few more companies that may be able to take some lessons from Kryptonite. The first is Dell. Jeff Jarvis has been having some problems with them, with a complete lack of customer service. But the story is not confined to a few blogs; Rick Segal overheard a lunchtime conversation:
I happened to be sitting across from a couple of bank tellers from TD Canada Trust, the bank in our building. These two ladies I’d seen before so I knew where they worked.
Lady one: I was going to buy a new Dell but did you hear about Jeff Jarvis and the absolute hell he is going through with them.
Lady two: Yeah, I know the IT guy told me that the cobler blog was recommending we stay away from Dell.
So there we have the story spreading, producing lost sales and bad conversation. Dell is unlikly to get back in their good books without a lot of work. There are lots of comments and opinions agian about Dell not listening, not reacting, not knowing how to relate to customers in these internet-powered days.
But there’s another side to the easy access to information, to postings being indexed and searchable. Sometimes you find a company is listening to its customers, does not like what it hears and reacts in a way that is not what the blogger wants. Jay Goldman posted a comment a his friend Joey deVilla’s blog regarding a local moving company in Toronto. The comment was a warning about some moving compnaies to avoid, one of which was Quick Boys Moving Storage. It appears that the company involved tracked Joey down and requested with menaces that the comment be removed. After originally removing the comments in order to get some time to reflect, the comments and the whole episode including transcripts of the calls are back online. With some rather interesting comments in the new post. So here we have a company that does listen – but carries on with the same attitude regardless.
I added a Tag Cloud to this blog on Sunday; for some reason I’m only seeing it today. After trying to get it to work for me, I just left the code inthe template, in the vague hope that it would just start working – and it did. Some weird caching effect somewhere I guess. However, I inputted over 300 feeds – what I think I need to do is break it down into a couple of categories, which will probably get it to make more sense.
Mary Hodder is currently in the middle of a series of pieces exploring the differences in Blog Search Tools. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2. It looks like it’s going to be a 6 part series. A great collection of information about how the various options work (focusing on ,a href=”http://bloglines.com”>Bloglines, Blogpulse, Feedster, Pubsub and Technorati. On keyword search, here’s a summary:
But the point is, blog search results are similar to web search results, with some additional information presented. The order of the results is different, though, in an attempt to meet most users’ expectations and goals with the information, and more closely match the results with what is interesting about blog information. Google serves what they believe is the most relevant information, based on page rank. Blog search companies give what they see as most relevant, which are results are in reverse chronological order, based upon the idea that the results that will satisfy the most people’s expectations are based on recency.
It drives home to me the need to understand the tool that are available and then use the right one for the job.
Blogpulse have launched a tracking tool, allowing analytical data to be pulled out about specific blogs; there are plenty of links around to it this morning. It would be better if it wasn’t broken with this random error mesage: HTTP ERROR: 500 java%2Enet%2EConnectException%3A+Connection+refused
The Ask Jeeves blog has some analysis of its Bloglines Service. There are a lot of blogs out there, being created left, right and centre, but 1,121,655 of them have atttracted at least one person to subscribe to a feed via Bloglines. They range from blogs with just one person subscibed through the dominance of Slashdot, with 37,400.