Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Linking to Farez Rahman's blog: Social Capital

Now that I have SiteMeter installed on my blog, I am loving the referrals feature. Each day I enjoy learning where my readers come from. Sometimes I am gratified by the recognition -- like when someone Googled the specific title of my personal favorite post. Other times it's pretty funny -- like when some did a Yahoo search on "David Ortiz married" and got this rather than our Red Sox hero's marital status.

Much more often, however, scanning the referrals to Connectedness reveals a new (to me) website related to my own interests. Today's find is Social Capital, a very professional blog written by Farez Rahman. Farez is a Ph.D student in the Dept. of Computer Science, University College London, whose interests are trust models for open distributed systems, such as the Internet or peer-to-peer systems.

As I dip my toes into the world of blog-networking, I am also surprised at how crude and also sophisticated the capabilities are. Sophisticated in that with SiteMeter I get quite a bit of information about where my readers are coming from. But crude in that I still do not know any way to find out when someone adds a link to Connectedness somewhere on the Internet. For a moment I thought I had solved the link survey problem, when I saw the purported functionality of the link operator on the Google cheat sheet. (Thanks to Bill Ives for cluing me in to this.) But I have since learned that the link operator in Google falls far short of revealing even most of the pages that link to Connectedness.

Another way of saying this: I know when each individual net-surfer navigates to my site, and how he or she got there. But I don't know when somone endorses my site with a link, which is in some ways a much more significant action. Or is it? I am flashing back to freshman philosophy class, asking myself the question: "If someone adds a link to the Internet and no one clicks on it, does it really link anything?"

A final note: All this blog-networking touches directly on TrackBack, a feature not supported by Blogger, I am sad to say. For those of you new to the world of TrackBack, here is a helpful primer.


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