Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Value of connection within the Blogosphere

The value of inter-blog connections is very high. In the top diagram, there is no connection among blogs within the blogosphere. Users must use search engines to get to any blog within the blogosphere because using one blog to find another is impossible. Search engines have a lot of power in this model to control which blogs get traffic. Given the top 10 rule, and the fact that a popular blog will come up higher in a search engine, a small number of blogs will become more and more popular.

In the bottom diagram, high connectiveness within the blogosphere serves to even out the traffic and limit the power of the search engines as gatekeepers. To enter the blogosphere, a search engine is still essential. There are probably still a few very popular blogs that act as gatekeepers too, but since they and other blogs link to each other, users can use them to navigate instead of relying solely on search engines.

There is an ineresting question about choice here - Search engines allow users to type in keywords to choose what to find. But search engines limit choice by using search algorithms that are unavaliable and un-understood by users. So the search engine is still directing the choice of users in ways they cannot know.

But a well connected blogosphere is no better. There users find choices (links from one blog to other sites) that are entirely selected for them by authors. They will usually be related to a topic the user is already interested in, but the user has no choice about what links are on a blog he visits.

Perfect choice, in which a user can completely design search criteria in such a way as to return the most useful links, is impossible given the complexity of the web. It is a traveling salesman problem . So we can only approximate it with employing a library of varied search techniques. Is the Search Engine + interblogosphere links equation enough? Or are there ways to still improve the robustness of search strategies?

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