Thursday, November 16, 2006


Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?
by Pam Ashlund

Tuesday I wrote about tagging, but it didn't answer one question: what is all that tagging supposed to achieve? Presumably it’s about categorization (for yourself and for the public), but more significantly it’s about attracting attention (pro’s call that “publicity”).

OK, I admit it, I was perturbed by my Technorati ranking of 170,000, but today I read that they rank 57 million blogs, so maybe anything over a 1 million ain’t bad. LOL

Amy Gahran in her blog “Contentious” has a great article deconstructing Technorati’s ranking methodology. Did I just use deconstructing and methodology in the same sentence? Maybe I need to lay off the coffee!

Seriously folks, I’ll be here all weekend. Try the veal!

But back to Amy…she asks: is “more” better?

Using variables like “posting frequency”, “regional popularity” and “in-bound links” to measure popularity, authority and influence has it’s limitations. In high school, popularity had nothing to do with quality, but that was sad comfort to those of us unpopular kids!

Amy points out that sophisticated bloggers know how to game the system. Therefore linking to other blogs may just be a veiled attempt at self-promotion! No-o-o-o! What kind of low-life would use a devious strategy like that?

Amy advocates for offerings like BuzzLogic which have “a better grasp of what really constitutes influence in conversational media”. But, she adds “Buzzlogic isn’t free, and Technorati is.. " and thinks in the end “you get what you pay for”.

Well, time to sign off before I quote away all of Amy’s posting!

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Amy said...

Hey, glad you liked my article.

You wrote: "Did I just use deconstructing and methodology in the same sentence?"

Well, let me play editor:

"Amy Gahran shot some major holes in how Technorati ranks blogs."

...simple, active verbs almost always communicate better :-)

- Amy Gahran

pam ashlund said...

My first comment from a real "content strategist"!

I love it Amy, you wrote a better summary of your blog in one sentence than I did in my whole posting. hahaha


Anonymous said...

Popularity versus quality: what is the relationship? This issue makes me think of the situation of the Finnish government in the months preceeding the Winter War of 1939-1940.

There was Gustaf Mannerheim, the savior of the country during the 1918 Civil War, being dismissed as a war- and fear-monger for his warnings that the country needed to prepare for the possiblity that the Russians--bargaining for some military consessions Stalin felt he needed to protect his "Nordic side door" from Hitler--might drop the negotiations and invade.

Sure enough, while the great minds who marked the old man as a crank worked at negotiating in good faith with the agents of a man who would become one of the world's most infamous mass murderers, Stalin's troops were busy building secret invasion roads through the quiet pine woods.

Then a half million Russians poured over the border in late November, and the country was so militarily ill-prepared that they were dragging Napoleonic-era cannons out of the parks so as to have something with which to fight back.

Well, to whom did the visionaries in the government turn to save the nation? You guessed it: Mannerheim. And were it not for his military genius and the remarkable tenacity of the Finnish soldiers, the Finns would have lost their country. (This is the time about which Winston Churchill said, "Finland alone, in danger of death, shows what free men can do.")

What's that got to do with the blog? Well, I'm an educator, and I see this problem all the time: the people who "rate" the quality of our ideas and give them thumbs-ups or downs are too often--the cynical would say "always"--swayed by popularity. They listen to the people they like, the people who tell them what they want to hear, the people who understand that, in the minds of our leaders, the only problems on the watch are the people who see any problems on the watch.

So what makes a quality blog, a quality rating system, a quality anything? This is my thought: a friend of mine tells me there's a bar in New York whose walls are papered with the covers of all the number-one bestsellers for each week since the 1930's or some crazy thing. And he tells me that not one of those titles is recognizable today as a must-read in the field of literature.

Maybe then, quality has nothing to do with popularity and everything to do with being correct, which, in many cases, only time proves.

Thanks for the chance to comment, Cousin Pam!

The Hawk