One of the things that I was thinking about this weekend was authority in blog search rankings. While most of us will never even get near the Technorati Top 100, we do care about our blog rankings because that ranking has been translated to authority. Over time, authority will become much more important as this is how the “attention” tools and “meme trackers” will filter out noise and present more meaningful information to readers. If you want people to actually read what you write on your web site, having some degree of authority will be important. While the old days of reading and linking could make your blog visible among a group of thousands, in a world where 500,000 new blogs are created per day there is simply too much noise. Not every voice can be heard and it will become more important to establish authority to help people find the content that they’re interested in.
One of the problems with authority as it is currently implemented by sites such as Technorati (and search engines in general) is that there is a lack of relationship between your online identity and authority. Your authority is a one-to-one relationship with a web site. This can be a real problem for lots of bloggers for several reasons. First, this punishes bloggers that use hosting services such as TypePad and then want to switch hosting providers to have access to better tools. If you leave your host, you can’t take the authority that comes from your old blog with you to your new one. Even if you use a feed engine such as FeedBurner or Pheedo, your authority is based on the permalinks to your site and not the location of your RSS feed. While Technorati profiles support the claim of multiple blogs, your rankings are based on each individual blog. To many, this probably doesn’t seem fair. In speaking with bloggers over the past year, I can tell you that many people don’t want to migrate to a new domain or host for two main reasons- the risk of losing their authority and the potential loss of revenue that comes from ad services. Of course that ad revenue is tied to their traffic which benefits greatly from the authority of the blog or web site in question.
While on its face it may seem that this would be an easy problem to solve, it actually isn’t. If you allow people to gain authority through multiple blogs, what is to stop a blog spammer from creating 100 (or even a 1000) blogs and cross-posting between them? Even if the cross-posting could be eliminated, a spammer might manage to get a few links per site, thus catapulting themselves to a top authority in a very short period of time. The result would be more noise.
So how do we fix this? I think we need to start working on an identity system that enables people to maintain their authority based on their web activity associated with the identity. Is this anything like the identity work that has been talked about on the web for so many years? I’m not really sure. I see very positive momentum around identity, but most of the scenarios center around security and protecting user information while enabling richer interaction with sites and services. Those are important goals, but it seems like an identity system focused on developing a user profile for web applications, blogs, and other services would be very beneficial. Think TypeKey, but focused on maintaining a central authority for works published by a given user. This would need to be an open system- a proprietary approach would not really benefit anyone given the growing number of blog search tools, meme trackers and other sites focused on presenting relevant topical content.
Always being interested in prior art, is there any work being done in this area currently? Is there value in having some sort of “authority profile” that might be distinct from your online identity as it relates to commerce or other critical functions? If there are, please provide details in the comments. I think there is a huge opportunity here.
David Chappell: “I’d argue that an important aspect of loose coupling–often the most important–is the ability to communicate via queued messaging. Sadly, this isn’t really possible today in an interoperable way with web services.”
I agree with David- we’ve really only solved interoperability between endpoints. Shy Cohen writes about this challenge as well. Hopefully we’ll see some movement in the near future to help make loosely coupled architectures much more robust (and thus more realistic for large-scale software/business integration efforts).
I’m starting to dig into edgeio to better understand its services and potential. I’ll likely be posting some listings tonight or tomorrow. Watch this space for an update.
ThinkSecret: “The iPod Hi-Fi boombox will mark Apple’s first foray into significant iPod companion products, as the company seeks to capitalize on the iPod economy it has created, valued today at several hundred million dollars. To date, Apple has released only minor accessories for the iPod with its logo, including remotes, cases, earphones, and docks.”