Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Influence

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Aug 26, 2006

Responding to David Armano:

Here's a thought experiment:

Joe writes a blog, and it reaches a cadre of 100 Republicans, each of whom dutifully links back on the blogroll.

Jill writes a blog, and it reaches a network of 100 people worldwide, from diverse points of view, each of whom has linked to her blog in an article that discusses her point of view.

Who is more influential?

According to the post above, they have equal influence. However, common sense suggests that Jill will have more influence than Joe, because her ideas will reach into different circles of people, different communities.

Influence is not a function of linkage. It never has been, Technorati notwithstanding. Influence is a function of four properties (and people who have read my work before will be very familiar with these properties):

1. Diversity - a person who communicates with a diverse audience will be more influential than a person who communicates with a unifo0rm audience.

2. Autonomy - a person who is free to speak his or her own mind, and is not merely parroting some 'official view', will have more influence.

3. Openness - a person who writes in multiple languages, or who can be read on multiple platforms, or who is not limited to a single communications channel, will have more influence.

4. Connectivity - a person you can communicate with, and who will listen to your point of view, will have more influence than a person who does not.

The basis for this list is found in my paper 'An Introduction to Connective Knowledge'.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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