More on blog interconnections

Joi Ito wades into the debate about Weblogs and power laws:

Blogs are different. Although the search engines and metaindexes are useful, they are no longer the first place you go. I read my RSS news feeds before I go searching on a portal for news. As Dave says, don’t know most of the blogs on the top 100 list and I don’t care. We are organized into more intelligent communities and although there is a power law of sorts with respect to blogs that get a lot of attention, there are many local peaks. I think it looks much more like clusters of blogs with interconnections between communities. A lot like a strength of weak ties sort of map.

Again, people seem to be talking about different things here. You can look at aggregate levels of traffic or inbound links to blogs and find a power law distribution (Clay Shirky, Jason Kottke, and others). Or you can do social network analysis to find clusters among those links (what Ross Mayfield and Valdis Krebs appear to be doing). Within each community I suspect there are the same sort of power law distributions.

Each of those data points tells you something different. For some things like advertising rates, total traffic matters a lot. In other cases, having strong ties and popularity within a community are enough. Blogs are different than the earlier generation of Websites and portals, in that they allow dense, multidirectional connections between sites. But they are similar in the way bottom-up user behavior sorts out popular sites and creates inequality of traffic.