Clay Shirky on Weblogs and Power Laws

Writes Clay Shriky in his monthly email newsletter:

Good lists (
) and image (
) of the blogosphere from N.Z. Bear.

The lists of inbound links are particularly interesting, as the the number of sites with a decreasing amount of inbound links outnumbers those with an increasing amount of links of not quite 2 to 1. However, (as you’d expect) the most linked-to sites have a decreasing-to-increasing ratio 1::2, while the least linked to sites have a decreasing-to-increasing ratio of over 3::1.

This exactly matches Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s model for networks where preferential connectivity drives topology — the link-rich get richer. With these lists, you can see the blogosphere resolving itself into a power law distribution, which will almost certainly distrupt the egalitarian rhetoric surrounding the blogging enterprise today, by doing things like making the current daypop statistics irrelevant (daypop counts number of blogs linking to a story, rather than traffic-per-blog which, other than daypop statistics, is the bigger determinant of exposure.)

Glenn Reynolds,, has another proposal that may also accelerate this process: open hit counters. Rather than making traffic numbers a private matter, Reynolds is proposing that blogs host open, third-party counters. (Check this Instapundit post.) The effect of this, of course, would be to accelerate the existing trend separating the few extremely opular blogs from the moderate number of moderately successful ones and the vast number of very low traffic blogs.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.