www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> WiReD: 'infectious blogs'
nettime's_roving_reporter on Wed, 10 Mar 2004 18:20:33 +0100 (CET)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> WiReD: 'infectious blogs'


     [ via tbyfield; the lynx output was de-doubleclickified.]

   < http://wired.com/news/print/0,1294,62537,00.html >

Warning: Blogs Can Be Infectious

   By [17]Amit Asaravala 

   Story location:
   [18]http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,62537,00.html

   02:00 AM Mar. 05, 2004 PT

   The most-read webloggers aren't necessarily the ones with the most
   original ideas, say researchers at Hewlett-Packard Labs.

   Using newly developed techniques for graphing the flow of information
   between blogs, the researchers have discovered that authors of popular
   blog sites regularly borrow topics from lesser-known bloggers -- and
   they often do so without attribution.

   These findings are important to sociologists who are interested in
   learning how ideas grow from isolated topics into full-blown epidemics
   that "infect" large populations. Such an understanding is also
   important to marketers, who hope to be able to pitch products and
   ideas directly to the most influential people in a given group.

   "There is a lot of speculation that really important people are highly
   connected, but really, we wonder if the highly connected people just
   listen to the important people," said Lada Adamic, one of the four
   researchers working on the project.

   To satisfy their curiosity, the researchers began analyzing data from
   Intelliseek's [21]BlogPulse Web crawler, which regularly mines
   thousands of blogs for references to people, places and events.

   When they plotted the links and topics shared by various sites, they
   discovered that topics would often appear on a few relatively unknown
   blogs days before they appeared on more popular sites.

   "What we're finding is that the important people on the Web are not
   necessarily the people with the most explicit links (back to their
   sites), but the people who cause epidemics in blog networks," said
   researcher Eytan Adar.

   These infectious people can be hard to find because they do not always
   receive attribution for being the first to point to an interesting
   idea or news item.

   Indeed, the team at HP Labs found that when an idea infected at least
   10 blogs, 70 percent of the blogs did not provide links back to
   another blog that had previously mentioned the idea.

   To get past this obstacle, the researchers developed techniques to
   infer where information might have come from, based on the
   similarities in text, links and infection rates.

   For instance, if Blog A used the words "furry germs" to link to an
   infectious topic like [22]Giantmicrobes just days after Blog B in the
   same social circle used the exact same words and link, that would be a
   good sign that Blog A copied Blog B.

   The researchers have incorporated their techniques into a search
   algorithm they call iRank. Unlike Google's [23]PageRank algorithm,
   which ranks websites based on overall popularity, the iRank algorithm
   ranks sites based on how good they are at injecting ideas into the
   mainstream.

   "A lot of sites that get listed by search engines as most relevant are
   not always the most relevant," said Adar. "For instance, Slashdot
   often gets listed at the top, but it's just an aggregator. I may want
   to go to the source."

   Adar and Adamic say it's too soon to tell if iRank will be
   incorporated into popular search engines.

   For one thing, they plan to refine the algorithm after seeing how it
   works on more data. They would also like to modify the algorithm to
   resist manipulation from Google-bomb-type attacks, where collaborators
   link to each other's sites to boost themselves in Google's ranking
   mechanism.

   In the meantime, the team has made some of its research available
   online in the form of the [24]Blog Epidemic Analyzer, a Java program
   that reveals the implicit and inferred links between blogs in an
   interactive, visual form.

   "Blogs are helping us get a better understanding of how things happen
   on the Internet," said Adar. "We're hopeful that in being able to do
   this research, we can apply the technology to other information, like
   e-mail, to improve productivity."


    [34]Copyright 2004, Lycos, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
   Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Lycos

   Note: You are reading this message either because you can not see our
   css files (served from Akamai for performance reasons), or because you
   do not have a standards-compliant browser. Read our [37]design notes
   for details.

References

   Visible links

  17. http://wired.com/news/feedback/mail/1,2330,761,00.html
  18. http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,62537,00.html
  21. http://www.blogpulse.com/
  22. http://www.giantmicrobes.com/
  23. http://www.google.com/technology/
  24. http://www-idl.hpl.hp.com/blogstuff/index.html

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net