This week I’ll be presenting a paper at the International Communication Association Conference in New Orleans titled Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community. The paper is an analysis of two different metrics for measuring authority within weblogs:
- Blogroll: A link from one weblog to the top-level of another, (e.g., links to http://overstated.net, http://www.overstated.net or http://overstated.net/index.asp). I assume this is a proxy to popularity.
- Permalink: Any link from one weblog to deep content on another (e.g. a link to http://overstated.net/04/05/24-weblogs-and-authority.asp). I assume this is a proxy to influence.
The following table shows the top 20 for each measure. One observation is that many of the top ranked sites are community weblogs (e.g. Slashdot or Memepool). These sites play the important role of hubs, maintaining ties to more weblogs than a single person would be able to. They allow information to diffuse quickly between distant parts of the network of readership.
|Blogroll Degree Rank||Permalink Degree Rank|
A second observation is that the lists are fairly distinct. While some webloggers hold top positions in both ranks, the list diverges considerably as the position increases. While Blogrolls tend to support the weblog elders (scripting.com, evhead.com, etc.), permalinks suggest a different set of authors as influencers (joi.ito.com, buzzmachine.com, etc.). Looking at the differential between the ranks in the figure below, it is apparent that as soon as the rank passes 100, the correlation between Blogroll and Permalink rank becomes less defined.
Permalink and Blogroll rank differential
This raises new light to the age-old weblog power law debate. While the blogroll rankings (reflected by Shirky’s original analysis) suggest a model of preferential attachment, many of those weblogs listed in the top permalink ranks are much younger. If the weblog social structure is mitigated by a law of the “rich getting richer,” we would expect older weblogs to have more influence, and hence more links to their entries.
There are obviously many caveats and details, all of which are listed in the full paper below. Since I’m presenting it this coming Friday, I’d appreciate any feedback you may have.
Full paper: Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community (pdf 228k)