Tying communication threads together

discussion broke out at Sam Ruby’s talks about weblog popularity. In particular, Jim Winstead wrote:


The navel-gazing among some webloggers is pretty monumental, and systems like technorati, blogdex, and popdex reflect that.


I agree with Jim. As I mentioned in my own post, Third Generation of Weblogging, following an analogy of human growth to weblogging generations, this last blog generation is similar to our teen years with our fixation on popularity. S/he with the most links, wins.

The hypertext link is still our most direct tool for connectivity, but we need to make links ‘mean’ something other than bland acceptance and hence popularity. We need to start tying communication together and the link is the tool of choice, but we need to start using links effectively.

Of course, this leads me back to my own personal bugaboo: blogrolls. My blogroll replacement functionality is complete except for one thing — the blogroll links themselves. If I pull these links from the main page, delink them all, this action results in one less ‘class president vote’ so to speak for all my blogroll members. This impacts on each weblog’s ranking in technorati and most watched and the blogging ecosystem, not to mention Google rank. My decision to not go with a blogroll impacts on other people.

Is it fair of me to implement a new way of doing things in my weblog that influences the participation of each of my blogroll listees? The old “my weblog, my choice” of course takes precedence, except that now we’re seeing twistie little threads of community, sticky strands of webbing that tie us together a tad more than is implied by ‘journal’.

After all, if we didn’t care about interaction within the weblogging community, we wouldn’t implement comments, or trackback, or link to each other, or correspond with each other on the phone or within emails. We’d just write and be indifferent to that which doesn’t impact directly on us — the pure journalist who never sees his or her audience.

(I just realized something — going back to writing in a void is almost repugnant to me now. What have you all done to me?)

Yet at the same time, there is a quality of “recommendation” to blogrolls that I don’t care for, above and beyond the political use of blogroll links; an assumption that blogrolls are made up of people whose weblogs, and indirectly writing and opinions, we recommend. You may not mean this by your blogroll, but that’s how people can, and do, perceive them. Do you want to recommend the weblogs you read regularly? Do you read weblogs regularly that you don’t recommend so therefore you don’t list in your blogroll?

At the Blogstreet site, they define Blog Neighborhoods as:


It is a set of Related blogs based on the BlogRoll of the analyzed blog.
For Authors, their Neighborhood is a pool of blogs to track.
For Readers, it helps them to find more blogs similar to a blog they have liked (emphasis added).


But, but, but — the weblogs in my blogroll aren’t similar to mine. In fact, many are quite different. Blogrolls are just like HTML elements: there’s an interpretation attached to them that can vary, considerably, from the original intent.

blogroll == em
blogroll == img
blogroll == a
blogroll == blink!

Anyway, the approach I’m considering at this point for my blogroll replacement is a PHP page that lists links to all of the weblogs that are among my significant quotes, with a caveat that no similarity or agreement with the writing is implied by the link — follow at your own risk. If the buzz sheets are smart enough, they’ll follow a link from my main page to this page, and people will get their votes. If they care. This is in addition to the PHP code that will randomly pick a weblog quote for the weblog main page.

What think?

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