Top Edublogs - August 2007
Aug 16, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting because McLeod estimates the size of the edublogosphere to be more than 50,000 blogs. In an analysis of 3600 of them, using Technorati link ratings, he identifies the 'top 30'. This blog is ranked fifth, behind Inside Higher Ed, apophenia (Danah Boyd's blog), Weblogg-Ed (Will Richardson) and Education Week. The other blog comes in 26th, making me (I think) the only person with two blogs in the top thirty. So what does it all mean? In a word: nothing.

For one thing, I don't agree with McLeod's argument that "The hubs and superhubs are the essential connectors, the glue that holds the network together." The diagram he uses, from Barabasi's Linked In, is simply wrong. Wrong both descriptively - it's not what the blogosphere actually looks like - and normatively - it's not what it should look like. What we are more like, and more want to be, is a mesh, and not a hub-and-spokes network.

For another, I agree with Jennifer Wagner. "No one should ever feel 'not good enough' to blog." Nor should they feel that rankings - Technorati or otherwise - are in some way indicative of the quality of the writing, despite what McLeod claims. All you have to do is to get a bunch of your friends together, create blogs, link to each other, and voila, you're powerful and influential, at least according to Technorati. Or all you need is some way to give your blog an extra boost - perhaps you can hire writers, have a print magazine, or give seminars on a daily or weekly basis where you encourage people to blog - when I was publishing the MuniMall newsletter my biggest boost in subscriptions was from the booth and talks at conferences.

Don't believe in the myth of 'rankings'. These matter to commercial media and advertisers, people who are more interested in counting eyeballs than insights. Even were the Technorati (or Feedburner) rankings accurate, they wouldn't be worth the paper they were written on. Even the idea that there could be a ranking of 'best' bloggers is mistaken. Blog beauty (as in all other things) is very much in the eye of the beholder - and whether any blog, including this one, is of any use to anyone varies according to who is reading and what they're looking for.

Related: AMS on why we don't provide usage statistics; Amy Gahran, What does Feedburner's 'reach' really mean? Total: 1993
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Re: Top Edublogs - August 2007

Hi Stephen,

You say "Wrong both descriptively - it's not what the blogosphere actually looks like... What we are more like ... is a mesh, and not a hub-and-spokes network."

I'd be very interested to know the evidence for that statement.

Barabasi's description of real world networks is based on the idea that there will inevitably be some nodes that become (through their "fitness") extremely popular and therefore linked to by many other nodes. These are the hubs. Most nodes will not be hubs and will be linked to other nodes who aren't hubs - which gives the mesh.

The hubs are important - because it's through them that signals (ideas) transmit rapidly across the whole network. They connect together disparate parts of the mesh.

Perhaps the problem here is to do with how we're describing the hubs. I agree, there is no such thing as a top edublog - but there are still hubs. Even if we really want a totally democratic mesh, without the hubs ideas would not transmit efficiently. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top Edublogs - August 2007

Sorry, I forgot to login for that comment. I think I have now. If not, the previous comment was from Mark Berthelemy. Thanks. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top Edublogs - August 2007

My response is here: [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top Edublogs - August 2007

I guess I would draw an analogy to TV channels.

Although there are plenty of niche cable channels, the big four or five networks appear to maintain their dominance because people like to watch some shows that everybody's watching in addition to some personal choices that may not appeal to everyone. I might not call them superhubs but I do think that they'll always be a handful of blogs that draw the biggest audiences. [Comment] [Permalink]

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