How I’m Travelling on the Internet

stats snapshotFirst off, wow. 10K+ visits yesterday from 56 separate sources, and the ball is rolling faster today (#5 on Blogdex). I sorta put the cart before the horse in creating a chart without statistical proof, but apparently no one minded. The great thing is that I now have loads of data to back up my claims, but with new questions of course (is RSS an extension of a site, or a new entity?) and the ability to create a real example of propagation. It would be great if I knew Flash since it’s obviously a visual that would benefit from it.

Secondly, to clear up a few things that may have been misunderstood. Since this is still a case-study in news discussion I am still being enlightened by people smarter than me. One fine example is John Hiler’s May 2002 article: “Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem” (via Mehrzweckbeutel [German to English]). Then there are my initial observations, with context from being on the receiving side of things:

A better definition of “source”: This was not meant to be limited to news articles and big media websites. This means any link in the Internet.

On citing/attribution: This seems to get people a bit riled up, since it seems that I was lambasting people who don’t link to their source. Suppose I go to a website, and they has a link to [source (via a big site)], would I attribute the big site too, or would I attribute my source? It shouldn’t matter, since in both cases the source is still linked, but most people will cite the big site. This is probably the biggest reason why it is so difficult to get linkage on the Internet: there’s little credit given in passing along news.

RSS/aggregator feeds: This is hard to define in the chart, since it seems to slide between Dark Matter and wherever it originally was posted. Someone could have an RSS feed of MetaNews, a Blog, or a Blog Indexer. I think it can be all three at once, after all it is an extension of the site itself. RSS is also probably the fastest way of sharing information thus far, as it is raw and (usually) timely.

It can be cyclical: When I said this about Big Online Media–“once they pick up a story, it can become a story again,”–I should have replaced “once”, with “if”. On that same note, if the source is the Big Media, the result is usually very interesting, since some of the best commentary and editorials that I have seen are coming from blogs and community discussion. These same discussions are often parroted once it hits the Big Media level.

Most of the time it’s not cyclical: Obviously no one expects badger badger badger or smack the pengu to climb off the Internet onto the front page of the New York Times, but sometimes pertinant news and opinions that have been voted important by the blogosphere get shoved off to the side are ignored or unseen by the Big Media. There is still a lot of work to be done by them to integrate better into the Internet. Zeitgeist columns dedicated to Internet news would be refreshing, but there is probably something better than that.

Small sites -vs- large sites: In a nutshell, the large sites dominate. Linkage and visitors are the currency of the Internet and these guys have it, often because they they spend it so freely. What truly distinguishes MetaNews from the Greater Blogosphere is context. With MetaNews is is sometimes found in comments, but larger blogs will usually link to context. As the Wired article pointed out, the freshest ideas are coming from the small blogs. Floating them to the top is an ongoing project that we should all be working on.

I want to thank everyone who has linked to this so far, it is going far and wide, and I hope more than one person sees the humor in making a story about Internet popularity a popular story. I’ll be posting an update with more images that document the data I have collected in what is now a case-study of my own news traveling on the Internet.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. You should also check out the Information Dynamics Group at Hewlett Packard Labs. Lots of research on email/blogging and information transmission over social networks…google “bernardo huberman HP” and away you go.

  2. Ach! The deadline for that is in 3 days. I’ll try and submit something, but it’s going to be very preliminary.

  3. As they said in “When Harry Meets Sally,” I want some of what he’s having. Go over to my site and check out MY graphic, “The Internet Food Chain.”

  4. How News Travels On The Internet
    Via my friend Barry Nesbitt who works in Ottawa on Caadian government-on-line matters of great import, from a blog I don’t know – Stephen Van Dyke .

  5. very interesting. look forward to seeing your new findings and hypotheses on what further accelerates the adoption of memes within the blogosphere and how such blog post epidemics start and spread.

    btw, for the record and since you make it clear that it’s helpful for your own research, i came here via jon Husband’s wirearchy.

  6. Getting others to consider the political value of the body-state-metaphor before this season of campaign news has not been easy. But now, do a web search on the term body-state-metaphor and lots of links appear. So, Aesop’s Fable, Belly and the Members, was updated enough times that academe (Shakespeare, etc) has considered it. Nobody else. Or am I going to be proven wrong?