Monday, January 02, 2006

Climbing up the long tail?

According to Technorati, this blog is currently #368,207 from the head of the blog-o-sphere, somewhere down the long tail. The BitGrid blog fares even worse (mostly because it's stale).. at #1,052,328. This makes me pretty far down the long tail of attention.

Now, it's all my own doing, because I haven't fed the blog-o-sphere what it likes to eat, a regular stream of tasty morsels of thought that add value, so I definitely deserve to be out here. The only reason I'm not futher out is that I've gotten the attention of a few from what I have contributed.

The reason for caring about this at all breaks down into two things for me, ego... and in a round about way... uh... ego. ;-)

First, it's the human desire to matter, to have value. I think that men particularly base their self worth on how useful they are. There's nothing worse for me than when I've let someone down because of my own failings, or there is nothing anyone could have done. I feel best when I've helped someone, built something cool, made a neat discovery, etc. I assume this is pretty much the same way anyone works.

The other matter is having a voice and reputation... I want to participate in the blog-o-sphere, the conversation, but I haven't yet learned to trust that what I'm doing is getting ANY attention, unless I get feedback from another human. When I wrote about security, and my strong beliefs that we won't get it without the magic bullet of Capabilities a few days ago... I felt that I was just wasting my time unless someone was going to read it.

I asked Doc Searls about reaching an audience... and I definitely understand the rock-star rule I've read that makes it crystal clear... there are a lot more people who read Doc, than Doc can possibly read, but he didn't answer it directly.

Not to be Blasphemous, but talking to Doc has a very spooky effect.... sometimes I think about something.... and there it is... in writing, from Doc.... or... I'll ask about something, and he'll address it... but in completely a different context, but still entirely usefull for my purposes.

For example, in the discussions area of Doc's web site... I posted How to most effectively engage the World Live Web? which specifically was about the web. Here we are 2 days later, and Doc's talking about getting the most out of conferences. Why do I see a connection? Because both are generally about how to best have conversations.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it... but it's spooky to me. Maybe it's just birds of a feather... I don't really know... but there it is... an observation.

I look at the tail as a training ground, a place where we find our voice. As long as we get some feedback and encouragement, we keep at it, and work our way up. Technorati rank, is of course only one dimension of things, a particular beast which has particular tastes, and there are many more ways to rank things. If one ranks interest in BitGrid computing, I'm pretty much the only one out there, or so it seems, which makes that particular tail very low

The length of the tail is a measure of value

Or better yet... the size of a conversation is a measure of its value (to its participants)

Someone at the long end of the tail is giving attention to stay in the conversation, if there is nobody interested, the tail drops to size zero, eventually. On the other hand, there are echo-chambers where everyone wants to talk about something cool, just to be in on the cool new thing... this is the dark side of the long tail, which feeds the spam monster.

With all of these measurements, it's tempting to use them as a shortcut for the analysis of real value... but shortcuts don't work, unless you know what to watch for (in other words how to do the work if the shortcut breaks)

Spam is what happens when enough people use a given shortcut, and it becomes profitable to attempt to game the system.

Well.. that's a long ramble... I'll post then edit

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