This is a piece from a paper, slightly edited, on how using (or not) a particular technology influences content of a weblog and, as a result, social dynamics around it. It’s a bit strange out of the context, I know 🙂
One of the ways to identify if there is a connection between two weblog authors would be to analyse blogrolls or link sidebars. Does link in a blogroll indicate a connection between bloggers? Not necessarily.
First, links in a weblog text could indicate a connection between bloggers as well and including them into the analysis gives totally different dynamics.
Second, not all weblogs have blogrolls or sidebar links. Does this indicate that a weblog author does not have relations with others or do not read other weblogs? Not necessarily. Bloggers could be connected via their RSS reading lists, as this quote from Jim illustrates:
Seems to me that blogrolls made sense in a time before RSS aggregators. If you use other blogs and sites as triggers for your own writing, then a blogroll serves as a useful way to organize your surfing. When you shift to an aggregator driven strategy, your subscriptions file becomes the equivalent of your blogroll. Of course, your subscriptions file is invisible while your blogroll was public.
In many cases links are not just pointers to additional information, but also “currency of the web” that helps to improve visibility of a page being linked to or, especially in a context of weblogs, signs of value and personal recommendation. In this case understanding why specific weblog or group of weblogs do not include sidebar links changes the way how readers interpret links and may change, as a result, the dynamics of interactions.
Another example of dependencies between (often invisible) uses of specific tools and blogging dynamics includes awareness of a blogger about incoming links. For example, if weblogs linking to each other have trackbacks enabled, bloggers and their readers have a visible trace of connection between posts. Although there are a variety of tools for finding incoming links, being aware of them and using them can change a way a blogger interacts with her audience. Finally, using news aggregator to monitor weblogs of others changes the awareness about their contribution as well.
Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/09/14.html#a1352; comments are here.