This is part 3 of a series on the growth of the Blogosphere, its impact on individuals, corporations, media, politics, and technology, Part 1 covered the overall growth of the blogosphere, and part 2 covered the volume of postings. Today I'll build further on the growing influence and authority of bloggers, and compare some of the online influence to mainstream media sites. Click on the image below to see the full-size chart (this data is about a month old, so there's a bit of change in the relative rankings from this data set and the current Top 100, for example)
The folks at Google (and IBM, and others) made a fundamental breakthrough in exploiting the concept of “Page Rank” - essentially, that hyperlinks are votes of attention, and that the number of web pages linking to a page is reflective of the authoritativeness of that page, and that use of collective human intelligence towards relevance revolutionized the search industry.
At Technorati, we've taken the same fundamental realization and extended it to people and organizations. The number of people linking to you is a very powerful measurement of your influence or authority with those people - because if nothing else, those people are spending some attention on you. Documents are the exhaust of our attention streams - they are a tangible reflection on what we are spending our time and attention on. Negative attention “I hate such-and-such” runs counter to this theory, but empirical evidence shows that people overwhelmingly link to items and objects that they like or endorse, far more frequently than to things they disapprove of (e.g. Terveen and Hill, 1998).
The chart above shows a graph of the most influential or authoritative blogs as compared with the most authoritative “big media” sites. Certainly, top-quality journalism, interesting articles, and consistency of quality show why the top big media sites are on top. But it also shows that a large number of people are getting news, information, and opinion from outside of the mainstream media, and that these sources are rivaling or exceeding the attention paid to smaller “professional” sites.
Also important are the approximately 8000 blogs that have between 100-1000 inbound sources, which represent a set of people who are often writing about targeted or niche topics, like PVRBlog (158 sources), or Ross Mayfield (340 sources), and tens of thousands of blogs between 50-100 inbound sources, which represent smaller communities of conversations going on every day, on a wide range of topics. There is a lot of information and conversation in the tail of the media power curve that goes well beyond what is available from larger media organizations.
Tomorrow: A look at the emerging world of the corporate blogger, and how they are changing the image of some of the most influential organizations, like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.