Blogs constitute a world of their own which we often refer to as the blogosphere:
Blogosphere is a collective term encompassing all blogs and their interconnections. It is the perception that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network. (Wikipedia)
Wikipedia treats the blogosphere as a concept of interconnectedness. We are making connections by linking to other blogs and over time a community may be formed around a topic. But where are these communities and where is the blogosphere? We can only “see” the blogosphere by visualizing the links that are made and by visiting blog search engines.
Visualizing the Blogosphere
One way of showing the blogosphere is by mapping the links that bloggers make. Matthew Hurst from the Data Mining blog made some very nice blogosphere visualizations that show the connections of millions of blogs. An interesting outcome, as published in Discover Magazine, was that LiveJournal blogs form a big core of the blogosphere and they are hardly connected to other parts of the blogosphere. LiveJournal is a very connected community that functions as a very connected social network.
Constructing the Blogosphere
Another way of seeing the blogosphere is by using blog search engines such as such as Technorati, Blog Pulse and Google Blog Search. There is a big difference in how search engines and blog search engines index the blogosphere and they all show us the blogosphere in a different way and different parts. Lorelle previously pointed this out when she asked the question “Who’s Talking About You and Your Blog” when MSN search only returned 43 links to her blog compared to the thousands of inlinks Yahoo returned.
Communities in the Blogosphere
Matthew Hurst’s visualizations of the blogosphere show us tight clustering around communities such as LiveJournal. Another big community in the blogosphere is the 9rules community which used to call itself “a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics.” (Internet Archive) Users gather around a certain topic (called communities) and are presented with the most recent blog posts by its members. Members are manually picked from thousands and thousands of applications in order to strive for high quality. Both members and users can actively discuss topics in the Notes section that functions as a social networking site.
9rules recenty changed its design and focus and it now calls itself “a social content network.” It is interesting to see that the focus has shifted from a weblog community to a social content network. There is a new focus on the social aspect of the community which now requires active participation from members. If you don’t participate in the member section or on the 9rules site itself your blog will no longer be listed on 9rules. This has led to several members leaving 9rules as they disagree with frequency of participation being a measure for quality. Despite the shift of focus it is still a community that strives to present the best of the blogosphere to its users.
The blogosphere is in your blog
The blogosphere reveals itself in different forms and shapes. It is constructed with links, blogrolls, permalinks and trackbacks. These elements of your blog allow you to connect to other blogs and this is how we collectively make the blogosphere. The blogosphere is made inside your blog.
How do you visit the blogosphere? Are you a member of a community in the blogosphere?
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.