I meant to post this last week but got really busy with our "any day now" launch of Rabble.
One of the keystones of our company is the idea of Location Aware Media Networking. Shawn wrote this piece that talks more in depth about the concept.
Practically speaking though, what does media networking look like?
Blogging on a consistent basis creates a lot of media. In the last year I think I have posted on average a post a day or something north of 300 - 500 posts. Originally my intention was to take more of an essay approach or a long form approach like Russell Beattie and some others including Shawn. In practice I have found that I write the occasional essay or long form piece ("Of Note" posts on the sidebar) and more often than not write short pieces that hit highlights of things I have encountered or things that reference back to the longer pieces I have written in terms of subject matter. Not quite link blogging, but somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I write about the little personal things in life that are important to me because that's what I want to do.
Because I have had several pieces picked up on some other blogs, I have had a couple of good traffic spikes associated with this blog. When you combine that with a large volume of media created from the smaller posts, you get some interesting effects that are reflected in search engines. I think it is interesting to point out this effect and the implications in the future as more people become active creators of content.
I have seen others like Stowe write about ego surfing the search engines. When I first read these posts I thought they were kind of funny and kind of silly. Over time however there is an interesting impact that I have noticed as I saw my result set rise in the rankings.
In my personal example of ego surfing my ranking as the most relevant "Derrick" on the some major search engines is as follows:
Google - 14th result
Yahoo - 3rd result
MSN - Nothing in the first 5 pages in the recently changes search engine.
Hot Bot - 14th result
Altavista - 7th result
Clusty - 42nd result
As for "Oien" I get pretty high in all of them either 1st or 3rd in all except MSN where I again am not in the first 5 pages of results. I need to go spend some time understanding their result sets as they are so different that the rest. I am sure there are some good reasons for that.
So what? I agree, short of some self centered view of fame this doesn't have any obvious value, but underneath the surface the value is more powerful. A review of people who have come to this blog over the weekend reveals some interesting data. Some examples include:
1. Somebody looking for the term "user generated world map" on Google (8th result)
2. Somebody looking for the term "tmobile callertunes verizon" on Google (6th result)
3. Somebody looking for the term "neil berkman echo" on Google (3rd result) (Neil is a friend)
4. Somebody looking for the term "voicemail doesn't work tmobile" (1st result)
At any rate on any given day something like 10-15% of the traffic to my blog is coming from these searches that may have relevance but may not either. In the above example #3 is from a mention of a friend that may or may not be useful to the person searching and #4 is about a specific post about the problem I continue to have with TMobile. The other posts are of marginal relevance, but the important thing is that I have posted a lot, and I have used some of the words they are looking for. And because of that, they might be reading this post, or something else that doesn't really answer their question.
At this point in time where there are arguably a handful (ok a REALLY big handful) of people blogging on a frequent basis, there is an inordinate amount of skewing of the result sets on most of the search engines towards results that have an intersection with these content creators who are blogging and the information people are seeking. I guess you could argue that there is some relevance based on that, and I know that I have had more than a couple of conversations with people as a result of these sort of random intersections, but generally to me these types of results miss the mark.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the impact of this and would make the following observations:
1. Increasingly in a world of decentralized media production and consumption we will find each other through the content we create, for better or worse. As things become more and more decentralized the way people will find us will be either through a direct existing relationship, a referral, or serendipity.
2. There will be a skewing of results in the various methods of finding people whether it is through search engines or blog specific engines towards people who create a lot of content. The body of work created by bloggers becomes self perpetuating and I am not entirely certain how you balance out volume versus quality as more and more bloggers are created. I would also say that some of the most articulate and bright people I know aren't blogging. Are those voices less interesting than those who have been blogging for several years?
3. Although most of the bloggers I read blog based on an interest area or some other outgrowth of their other efforts commercial or otherwise, I believe that there will be an increasing view that blogging is at a fundamental level a personal marketing platform rather than a method of self expression. I don't think that this is necessarily an intended consequence, but is a outgrowth of the explosion of information and the use of search engines as a means to give you what the TV Guide, the library, or friends used to be able to give you, i.e. information. Sure we want to chronicle our thoughts or start a conversation, but if you actually connect with people or have your content syndicated then people will find your writings whether they are your target audience or not.
4. Rich media will undergo a similar effect when we are able to index audio and video in a comprehensive way similar to what we have with full text search and blogs. Clearly doing that is no small feat, but imagine how powerful that will be.
I'd love to hear some thoughts on this or some pointers to other discussions of this elsewhere if you have any. I am sure this will be a topic I revisit often as I think the implications are extremely profound.