State of the Blogosphere/State of the Hubbasphere

by Marianne Richmond on November 6, 2006

Dave Sifry issued his State of the Blogosphere this morning and suffice it to say its bigger than it was last report (57million blogs tracked world wide, 2 blogs created each second of every day, 1.6 million posts per day, 55% of blogs are defined as active which means that they have been updated at least once, in 3 months). English and Chinese remain the top two languages but Farsai is now in the top ten languages. Well okay then….

Now the question that we really care about…..influence. Here is the way the Technorati sees it: Low Authority (3-9 blogs linking), Middle Authority (10-99 blogs linking), High Authority(100-499 blogs linking) and Very high Authority (500+ blogs linking). As explained by Dave, any authority designation is still authority because there are 1.5MM blogs with 10 or more links (versus 57 million total) and authority is directly related to time blogging and frequency of posting.

OK, so I have many issues with the manner in which links are counted but since I don’t really have the expertise to talk spiders and parsing and what is really behind the curtain at Oz, I will not take that on; however, I do have a few comments on the numbers as related to influence, the privilege of rank and "blogger relations" issue between Michael Arrington at TechCrunch and Mothers Click that is making the rounds.

It relates back to a post by Clay Shirky called Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality and the fact that the power law curve is heavily weighted towards those with the highest ranking. The rich get richer and so it is Technorati ranking terms. According to Shirky, the "size of the system increases the gap between the #1 spot and the median" and the highest ranked blogs (based upon links) are part of a self perpetuating, exponentially growing network of influence.

 In the words of Fred Stutzman at Unit Structures, the top ranked bloggers are the hubs who receive a disproportionate amount of in-bound links, that are flowing in a mostly non-reciprocal, low to high, ranked manner like airline hubs; the hubs then feed a significantly lesser number of links downward to the spokes. It is a kind of social multiplier model of influencers and influencer followers.

So, this leads to what Steve Rubel called the Underground Blogosphere: "The Underground Blogosphere is an intricate web of hundreds of thousands of emails that bloggers send to each other every day. In essence, they are "pitching" their latest posts in hopes of getting a link. Sometimes, bloggers are genuinely looking for good feedback, but more often than not all they are just looking for traffic." Steve gets pitched a lot and would prefer not to be emailed requests for links.Use del.ici.ous, please.

According to the PR firm for MothersClick, here is what happened: We have a client who was obsessed with getting their new 2.0-style company featured in TechCrunch. We approached it the right way, through the right channels, with respect for the people and processes at Arrington’s gig. We tried. We failed. It happens. Otherwise, the early reception in other media has been good. But the client was obsessed with TechCrunch. Without consulting their SHIFT team, the company’s founder left a critical comment at TechCrunch. The client basically questioned Arrington’s integrity. This comment got picked up by ValleyWag. Which got picked up by Digg. Which led to Mr. Arrington posting at-length in defense of his integrity.

Robert Scoble, in a post titled, "A-list bloggers keeping the little guy down?" weighs in an agreement with Steve Rubel: don’t email me, post a comment to my blog.

Tara Hunt says, "Now…for Mother’s Click…wtf are they thinking? Why even target Mike and TC? Huh? The majority of your audience isn’t even there – you want to go to BlogHer and Dooce and individually talk to all of the mommy bloggers you can about giving it a try. TechCrunch? I don’t know if Mike has stats, but I’d imagine that his audience is largely male. Not that being on TC isn’t still valuable…but putting all of your energy in that direction is ridiculous." She advices that using a PR firm to send a "Dear Blogger" is not the right approach to getting a link, anyway.

So….the State of the Blogosphere? Its big, still growing, driven by an inequitable model of influence as measured and perpetuated by Technorati, that makes it challenging to rise above; but study the model, learn the culture, target your efforts, and like Strumpette, fight for your links.

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