21 May 2005

Subvert the Dominant Link Hierarchy!

Because some people won't even recognise "dominant" or "hierarchy" even when the boots are on their faces, StDLH will not take hold in this part of the world...

Brad Delong and Clay Shirkey pose these questions, and fall off the edges of the dark precipice, into the bottomless depths of shrill unholy madness:

Are the best websites - the most interesting, the most informative, the most authoritative - the easiest to find?

Is there a danger that we are drifting toward a web of celebrity rather than of information - one in which well-known sites are well-known and prominent because of their well-knownness rather than their quality?

A persistent theme among people writing about the social aspects of weblogging is to note (and usually lament) the rise of an A-list, a small set of webloggers who account for a majority of the traffic in the weblog world...

A new social system starts, and seems delightfully free of the elitism and cliquishness of the existing systems. Then, as the new system grows, problems of scale set in. Not everyone can participate in every conversation. Not everyone gets to be heard. Some core group seems more connected than the rest of us, and so on.

We in the Great, Bountiful and Benevolent Empire of Singapore look on in horror as the internet becomes a sham meritocratic system.

It has to do with human behaviour (darn, some people do need some reeducation and thought-retraining!) - we tend to visit sites that are linked in the blogroll of other sites we've visited. People tend to link overwhelmingly to show either a preference for solidarity, or a solidarity for marketing (I link to X because X seems to be linked by everyone).

Delong takes the view that search engines exacerbate this trend. But readers from the Great, Bountiful and Benevolent Empire of Singapore might say "Search engines are meritocratic!"

Err, right... Each time someone arrives via Google, there's a chance they'll add a link. Sites with lots of links get high PageRanks. Sites with high PageRanks get lots of links. Will the system converge to fundamentals, or will it spiral out of control? Will positive feedback takes hold and in the end create many popular sites that are popular primarily because of their popularity?

And so it begins. Nicholas of Buttermilk has checked into the Hospice That Must Not Be Named, muttering nothing else but "I've been trying very hard not to say anything about tomorrow". Yes, the Order of the Shrill has claimed yet another adherent, this time through the mendacity, incompetence, malevolence, and sheer disconnection from reality of the editors at this virtual Potemkin village.

Nicholas wonders, as do Delong, Shirkey and myself among others, if the blogosphere and even groupblogs have become a web of celebrity and banality instead of information.


xenoboysg said...

Ahaha I like this "virtual potemkin village" idea.

Yes the Purge is now on. Can the purged spring their own surprises?

akikonomu said...

We can always hope for a Singapore Spring (no, not Spring Singapore) after the great purges.