May 11, 2004

Examining How Information Travels Around the Blogosphere

In case you've ever wondered how bloggers seem to be "in the know", you might find the Wired News article, "How the Word Gets Around" to be illuminating.

Sam Arbesman, a Brandeis University senior, "had been reading various studies that looked at historical data on the way information works its way across the Internet. But he was more interested in seeing if he could figure out, in real time, the trajectory of a meme once it hits the blogosphere. So he came up with a plan to find out. He called it the Memespread Project."

The Wired News article recounts what happened to his meme, and how and where spikes in traffic occurred after he posted it to several well-known sites. As the article mentions, the study itself is a bit tainted because the participants knew it was a study and its novelty factor could have substantially influenced others. However, with that said, it's an interesting read to see how viral the information became, with references to cross-infection between sites, people linking to it merely because others already had, etc.

New and unconventional communication methods are, to some extent, supplanting more traditional methods -- thus qualifying as "disruptive technologies". Case in point: Also at Wired News, "Text Messages Killing Radio Star" discusses how "nontraditional communications -- such as cell phone text messages -- are rapidly outflanking radio, television, and print media because of their immediacy and proximity to the public."

It's a new electronic world out there, yet information is still power. Thus finding new ways to obtain reliable information more quickly, and more importantly, having it make sense and getting use out of it while it's still relevant (and thus valuable), are all going to be very beneficial. For example, using a very simple free service like Google News Alerts (Beta) can quickly change how one receives relevant information with virtually little effort required. I fully expect that we're seeing just the tiny tip of the iceberg, and early adopters will reap competitive advantages.

Topic(s):   Blogging Tips  |  Other Musings
Posted by Jeff Beard