Blog value, link value, and the Paris Index

by Bob DuCharme

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Mary Hodder made this interesting post last weekend, and it's been a hot topic ever since. In her words,

Currently, blogs are measured in systems like Technorati or ranked in PubSub by links or by number of subscribers to a feed in Feedster. In particular, these are the not very interesting, subtle or telling measures used to make indexes like the Technorati Top 100 or the PubSub 100 or the Feedster 100. In Particular, the Technorati Top 100 is based purely on inbound links. All of these lists tend to favor those who blog in more general, popular topic areas, and not those who are specialists in an area.

For many bloggers the relevant sphere of influence is not overall popularity, as those indexes express. It's influence and connection within a community. And the relevant measure of connection isn't the number of connections -- it's the depth and impact of those connections.

She wants to quantify the depth and impact of those connections by looking at more than just the number of inbound links and the number of a particular blog's subscribers. He blog posting includes a table with nineteen kinds of information that could be taken into account, and she floats the possibility of an open-source algorithm to combine this information into a score. (She also includes a nice picture of the napkin from the Paris restaurant where she and her dinner companions sketched out their initial ideas.)

About half of her table's entries describe links and tagged URLs within particular contexts that can be considered metadata about those links and URLs—for example, links to a blog, links to a specific post, links to links to a post, the ratio of outbound links to generated traffic, outbound blogroll links, and more.

Her idea about developing this open-source algorithm, whose resulting score has since been dubbed "The Paris Index," has generated a lot of discussion this week, and she summarized it today in a post with a title that I had to love: Lotta Linkin Going On... Or Not. (The XML- and RDF-oriented weblog crowd that I follow most closely was well-represented in Mary's summary by Shelley Powers.)

The plans surrounding the Paris Index are a sophisticated new development in the evolution of one of Larry Page's original ideas that led to Google's PageRank algorithm: that we can derive link metadata from link context and then build useful applications from that metadata. Mary's table of potential metadata is an important step beyond the scribbles on her napkin, and I look forward to seeing where further steps lead.