Speaking of lists…

Mary Hodder (the incomparable) has posted her thoughts for an open source tool that would better judge blogger influence than the various A‑List/B‑List, Top 100 or Top 500 rankings that are the rage. (Doc Searls points to a new one today.)

For many bloggers the relevant sphere of influence is not overall popularity, as those indexes express. It’s influence and connection within a community. And the relevant measure of connection isn’t the number of connections — it’s the depth and impact of those connections. This is about celebrating the niche, and measuring engagement over time.
Mary’s right on the money on this, and I added my 2‑cents to her missive:
We all agree that the blogosphere is a bottom-up phenomenon, yet rankings are inherently top-down. This, it seems to me, is the most important factor in determining influence, etc.

Every blog is a part of or member of a tribe of individuals with like interests or other social, work or playtime factors that bring people together. No man is an island. We are all connected, and it seems to me that these connections are what need to be determined before any external value factor can be measured. I mean, it’s fine to weigh overall rankings among the population, but that’s mass marketing stuff and really irrelevant in a world of bottom-up connectivity.

In my work with LOCAL blogospheres, I find remarkable communities of people, so this is one element — how does a blog or blogger fit with their geographical tribe?

A second factor is, of course, content. Rankings determined by blogger category, for example, will give an entirely different view of where that blog fits within tribes that are determined by interest.

If this truly is a bottom-up phenomenon — and I believe it is — then we must start looking at the expanding circles of influence that surround an individual before we can do any sorts of measuring.

Finally, if any of this produces a lust to “get to the top” in any way, then we’ve shifted focus from bottom-up to top-down. Frankly, I’m very comfortable on the bottom, because that’s where the people are.

As I’ve stated here a million times (it seems), those who view the personal media revolution through modernist eyes will miss what’s really going on every time. This is not mass media, despite attempts by those within mass media to make it so. Mary alludes to this in her post. There are certainly bloggers who are reaping mass media benefits through top-down rankings, etc., but those are the exception, not the rule.

The truth is that money is what’s driving this rankings’ frenzy, and the only models people know are old. That’s why I like this open source algorithm idea so much. Maybe we can actually find NEW revenue models.

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