How does one make the Blog Directory happen? One can do this in a couple of ways. First, by asking bloggers themselves to state what are their expertise areas. This can be specified by the BlogMeta.xml file we discussed earlier. This can be verified and enhanced by looking at the links flowing between blogs (via blogrolls, story links) and doing an analysis of these links. This will help identify the popular bloggers. Then, by seeing whom they consider as experts when they link, it may be possible to get to the next level of expertise. Second, by involving the community and getting readers to rate, rank, review and classify bloggers. Taken over a large number of readers, an emergent expertise classification of bloggers will get created. This could then also be combined with the first approach to create a community-enabled expertise mapping of bloggers.
So, assuming we are able to get a reasonably good mapping of expertise to bloggers, what next? For one, we can look at the neighbourhood of bloggers so find other bloggers who may be of interest to us. This can be done by looking at the blogroll of a blog, or the Neighbourhood Analysis that is there in BlogStreet. The theory behind this is that if I am a friend of your friend, we may have something in common to also potentially be friends. What this exercise does is to create a list of bloggers whom one would like to read on a regular basis, just as one reads the morning newspapers or goes to a few websites daily. These bloggers become a part of ones daily routine. (In the case of blogs, one could of course subscribe to their RSS feeds and get the content delivered via an RSS Aggregator.)
Once a cluster of blogs have been identified, then it would be nice to get aggregates on what are the hot topics in this community, what are the new ideas that are being discussed, or what books they are reading. Basically, it is like able to eavesdrop on conversations being held (asynchronously and virtually) among ones favourite bloggers. One can thus create a unique view of the world, through the lens of others, and use those views to build out ones own perspectives.
This can be especially important for those among us who are quite far away geographically from the centre of some of these discussions, and unable to attend the conferences and trade show which give us a sense of where technology is headed. What this cluster of bloggers does is to recreate a permanent, virtual conference around us one which we can enter and participate in at any time. This is how we can bridge the digital divide of ideas. It is what I realise I have been able to do in the past year that I have been reading blogs (and blogging). The benefit is that, for the first time in history, thanks to the ecosystem being created by RSS and Blogs, distance is not a barrier to participation in the flow of ideas and creation of technology.
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