Thanks to Bill Ives for tipping me off to this paper, "Information Diffusion Through Blogspace," which he describes "a scientific discussion of how new concepts spread out through blogs, and how to find blogs that matter."
I took a look at the paper, very curious about the idea of measuring how much one blog matters vs another. Put this way, the question reminds me of a bit from a Laurie Anderson song, "Que es mas macho: lightbulb o schoolbus?" Or in our current context, "Which blog matters more: lightbulb or schoolbus?"
And now for the answers: Laurie Anderson would have us believe that schoolbus is more macho than lightbulb. With similar authority, I submit that lightbulb matters more than schoolbus.
You surely sense the shaky ground of opinion underfoot. So how do authors David Gruhl, R. Guha, Liben-Nowell, and Andrew Tomkins bring an objective point of view to this debate? By devising an algorithm to identify particular individuals who are highly effective at contributing to the spread of "infectious" topics. Sounds like a good metric to me, up to a point. I need to read more to see what the authors have to say about competing factors like numbers (think People magazine) vs authority (think Harvard Business Review).
For myself, I am thinking The New Yorker, as usual. In this week's issue, my fave Malcolm Gladwell (of Tipping Point fame) writes about intellectual property and asks, what's so bad about plagiarism, anyway? He writes personally, based on a Tony-nominated play "Frozen" that cribbed 675 words verbatim from a piece he wrote. It's a great article and after you read it you will never think about plagiarism the same way again. It's also a good compliment to any discussion about information diffusion (which Gladwell points out is not so distinct from plagiarism).
Speaking of information diffusion, for those of you who appreciated my review of TouchGraph, which gives a visualization of blog relatedness, I recommend you check out Bill Ives' recent review of BlogStreet Browser, which does almost the identical thing. Try them both and you will see the difference.